Eat your history: the book

Handwritten recipes passed through the generations, tales of goats running wild in colonial gardens and early settlers’ experimentation with native foods ... Eat Your History dishes up stories and recipes from Australian kitchens and dining tables from 1788 to the 1950s.

Sydney Living Museums and our resident gastronomer, Jacqui Newling, have published Eat your history: stories and recipes from Australian kitchens, a beautifully curated book to read and cook from.

Visually rich, and featuring over forty recipes and myriad stories, the book shares forgotten tastes, lost techniques, and delicious culinary treasures discovered through historic kitchens, collection items, cookbooks, menus and manuscripts, and the histories of Sydney Living Museums’ cherished houses and heritage places.  

“There is a popular belief that Australia lacks a food culture or an identifiable national cuisine. Yet our history is replete with food stories, and our food and the way we eat are products of our past. What we eat and the tastes we accept are dictated by environmental and cultural – and therefore historical, political, economic and social – factors; it has been this way throughout history,” says Jacqui in her introduction to Eat Your history.

My role as curator and resident gastronomer at Sydney Living Museums has allowed me to explore our food heritage and to share some of the stories and recipes of those who helped to create our history. Gone are the days when history was dictated and dominated by wealthy white men. Influential characters such as John Macarthur and William Charles Wentworth have their places in this book, but so do their wives, their servants and their homes.

“ Jacqui picks through the chipped and broken crockery and fine silverware found in the kitchens and dining rooms of the houses that are cared for by Sydney Living Museums to tell the story of how we, as a nation, have eaten” says Barbara Sweeney, Sydneysider and food writer.

“[Jacqui] has brought a slice of history alive and her book promises many happy and engaged hours of reading. That you can read it as well as bake from it is a happy prospect .”

Eat your history is available online and in our museum shops for $49.99 (RRP)

[Jacqui] has brought a slice of history alive and her book promises many happy and engaged hours of reading. That you can read it as well as bake from it is a happy prospect.

Barbara Sweeney, Sydneysider and food writer

A fine piece of work – and intellectually nourishing

Radio National’s Phillip Adams on Late Night Live

Photo of cakes on wire cooling stand with lemons and lemon squeezer.

Online shop

Regency cheesecakesThursday 28 April 2016

colour photograph of roughly furnished kitchen with green painted furniture, packing case cupboards besides a large fireplace with black stove inset and mantle shelf with fabric valance and containers. There's a gas bracket on the wall with a glass lamp.

Online shop

Mrs Sarantides’s shortbread biscuitsThursday 21 April 2016

The classic 'Meroogal sponge' cake

Online shop

Meroogal spongeThursday 14 April 2016

About the Author

Sydney Living Museums Image
Jacqui Newling
Gastronomer/Interpretation curator
Creative Services
Jacqui explores our history and heritage through food. Our historic properties have been home to many hundreds of people and they all had to eat. And while we can’t meet them for a chat, we can get a taste of their lives!

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