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Bound for South Australia 1836What’s Cooking? Week 21 The mess at dinner. Edward Snell, 1849
Overview Between February and July 1836 nine ships left Britain bound for the newly created province of South Australia. On-board the ships were passengers who over many long months braved the perils of the ocean, including some of the most treacherous seas in the world to begin a new life on the other side of the world. This resource uses the stories from these nine ships as recorded by the passengers and crew in their personal journals.
Content • Introduction • Journal entries • Inquiry Questions • Relevant images • Glossary of terms
Introduction This week we read about the ‘sumptuous fare’ served up to cabin passengers onboard the Africaine. Gouger reports lavish meals of several courses, topped off with beverages and the occasional plum pudding. We also read that the dining and eating experiences of the intermediate and steerage passengers are quite different to those of our author. This week we will look at how all of this food was cooked and served on board vessels of this era. It must have been quite a challenge.
Journal entries Wednesday 13 July 1836 Robert Gouger, on board the Africainewrote: July 13th. … Our cabin party besides Capn & Mrs Duff, consists of ourselves, Mr, Mrs & Miss Brown, the Emigration agent, his wife and sister; Mr & Mrs Hallett, a merchant & purchaser of land who settles in the colony and who is in partnership with Duff; Mr Everard & his wife; and Mr Skipper, the son of a solicitor of Norwich who is articled to Mr Mann, the Attorney General of the colony. The first mate also dines in the cuddy; thus we have the unfortunate number of thirteen! We fare sumptuously every day – Hot rolls for breakfast manufactured by our excellent black steward, eggs, rice, two sorts of cold meat, coffee, & every tolerable tea. At twelve luncheon: bread & cheese, the last of two kinds, both good, with admirable bottled porter, Hodgson’s pale ale wine & spirits. We dine at four; soup of an excellent quality, two joints, and poultry. As a sample: today we had pea soup, salt fish & eggs, haunch of mutton, fowls and pork – occasionally plum pudding. Then beer, porter,
wine and spirits as the French say à la volonté, which is being interpreted, as much as you please. Tea at eight, and the grog bottles from nine to ten. This precision on my part is for the especial consideration of Household [?]. It is true the ducks & geese are sometimes worthy the appellation of matrons, but certainly everything is better than I found it at Ibbotson’s Hotel. Harriet gives the soups unequivocal praise, and while I am writing she is having for luncheon a basin of broth, which calls forth a laudation at every mouthful. The intermediate party (i.e. between the cabin and the steerage) consists of eighteen persons; one intends to keep an hotel in the colony, Mr Thomas and his family (he is the proprietor of the colonial newspaper), my clerk Mr Nantes, and four proprietors of land in South Australia. They fare differently to the cabin passengers, having fresh meat but once a week, and on other days salt fish, pork or beef. The labourers and their families occupy the next compartment in the ship. Their number is about 50; they are all contented, and have reason to be so; in this place Mr Pollard & his wife are, with our servants. And now for a word about these. Pollard has volunteered to take charge of the poultry, the pigs & sheep, and my goats. He takes excessive pride in them & boasts of their condition daily; moreover he milks the goats, and performs upon the pigs and sheep when occasion requires the kindly offices of the butcher…
… I must however say at any risk that Capn Duff’s conduct in every respect merits the warmest encomiums; he appears to be a thorough sailor, decisive and skilful; he pays equal attention to all the passengers, has no favorites apparently, & therefore is a general favorite.
Inquiry Questions • How were meals and meal times organised onboard? • How did meals and meal times vary between cabin, intermediate and steerage passengers? • Examine the list of dishes served on the Africiane. What types of cooking utensils and methods would be used to prepare and cook these foods? • Gouger refers to a variety of animals onboard. How were animal products used in the meals provided onboard?
Images "Boulli Croquets of Chopped Meat, Mutton Cutlets, Capons a la Godard, Ham, Tongue" chromo-lithographic colour print published in an edition of Mrs. Beeton'sBook of Household Management, about 1880.
Pigeon Pie, Game Pie, Roast Turkey, Fillets of Fowl & Tongue, Braised Legs of Fowl with Fillets of Tongue" chromo-lithographic colour print published in an edition of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, about 1880
Glossary of Terms Cuddy • The galley or pantry of a small ship. Return to Journal Entries