Eat Your History: A Shared Table launches at the Museum of Sydney this week, offering a narrative of Sydney’s culinary heritage from 1788 to the 1950s. The focal point of a wider program of food-themed events to be held across eight historic Sydney properties, the exhibition pulls together objects from each estate and recreates each of their kitchens.
“We really want people to be able to experience the authenticity of our sites through the exhibition,” says Sophie Lieberman, head of programs at Sydney Living Museums, which curated the event series and exhibit. “People can then go and get a more in-depth experience by exploring those very rooms.”
A suite of sensory experiences will bring the exhibition to life, from the four-course Farewell Darling Dinner at Vaucluse House – modelled on an 1831 celebration that saw the slaughtering of eight bullocks for a lavish feast – to tours of the 19th century working class kitchens at Susannah Place Museum. “We’re lucky to have someone who does really in-depth research about the historical practice of cooking and eating,” Lieberman says of Jacqui Newling, Sydney Living Museum’s colonial gastronomer, who will also host talks at the exhibition.
Along with events from the museum, Real Food Projects is working on a farm-to-table dinner with Jared Ingersoll at Hyde Park Barracks Museum, while Young Henry’s has created a custom-brewed peach braggot (a traditional fermented mead-cider) to be served at a number of events.
Roll On, an event put on by Wildwon Projects, will be a sprawling 1920s picnic on Vaucluse House lawn complete with croquet, bocce and live music. There’ll be workshops in the potting shed to recreate beetroot jelly and raspberry vinegar cordial from original recipes from the era, plus lunch from fete stalls – think mushroom, thyme and mascarpone tart paired with Pimm’s Cup cocktails.
Lieberman says the program is designed to look at the history of how we eat and what that tells us about who we are. “Australian cuisine today is a story of becoming, and there are wonderful celebrations that come out of that.”
For the full Eat Your History program, visit sydneylivingmuseums.com.au