Monday, October 26, 2015

A Grand Civic Banquet (Australia, 1867)

Next Saturday, the 31st of October, is, as you are well-aware, Hallowe’en, and therefore a day of celebratory fun. The day also happens to be the tenth birthday of this blog. I am inordinately proud of this fact. I am especially proud that I have not missed a single weekday post during the ten years – public holiday or not. No-one can be more surprised than myself at the longevity of this whole thing, and the friends and fun it has given me. Thank-you, one and all, for your interest and enthusiasm.

Now, to cease boasting and get on with the business of story-telling (which is how I think of this weekday event.) This week’s posts (numbers 2,700-04) are on the theme of birthdays.
The ninth of November, 1867 was the twenty-sixth birthday of the eldest son of Queen Victoria, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII.)  I have no idea what was sort of celebration was planned for the heir himself, but the anniversary was acknowledged at a banquet held in honour of his brother, Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was in Australia at the time.

The South Australian Weekly Chronicle of 16 November 1867 reported on the occasion:


It was a happy circumstances which brought His Royal Highness to our shores at a time including the anniversary of the birthday of his Royal brother, the Prince of Wales, and His Worship the Mayor, taking advantage of this auspicious event, gave a grand banquet in the Town Hall. The entertainment was arranged on a scale or magnificence never before reached in the colony, and His Worship was lavish in his hospitality.
… The front of the Town Hall was brilliantly illuminated during the whole of the evening, and from the upper chamber of the tower Mr. Knight displayed a number of crimson and other colored lights, and also let off fireworks, consisting of rockets, wheels, &c, which bad a beautiful effect. The guard of honor wan composed of the Scotch Company and No. 6 North Adelaide Company, under the command of Major Clark, assisted by Captains Buik and Babbage. It was drawn up inside the entrance to the Town Hall, and on the arrival of His Royal Highness the volunteers presented arms, the Regimental Band struck up 'God Save the Queen,' and cheers rose from the crowd which had assembled to witness the Prince's arrival. The bells also sent forth a joyous peal.
The company began to arrive at half-past 6 o'clock in order that the guests might be in readiness to receive His royal Highness at half-past 7 o'clock, before which time all were seated.
On entering the room the sight was one of great beauty. A table on a dais ran across the top of the room near the platform, and two tables stretched the whole length down the centre of the Hall. There were eight other parallel tables divided by an aisle in the middle. On the platform was a long row of mirrors running along the front, the whole stage being decorated with foliage, flowers, and flags, and turned into a very pretty bower, behind which the band were placed. Amongst the flags on the platform were to be seen the new colors presented to the Prince Alfred Rifle Volunteers by the Mayoress, there was a recess in the centre where the vocalists who were to take part in the programme were to stand. This recess was arched over, and through the
recess was to be seen a very beautiful star of lustres splendidly illuminated. In addition to the brilliant light shed by the gasaliers, massive branching candelabra were placed at intervals down the tables in which wax candles were burned. The richness and gorgeousness of the table equipage, and the admirable arrangements generally, all contributed to make this a scene long to be remembered. His Worship the Mayor had evidently spared no expense, and Messrs. Hines and Son had, under his instructions, prepared a princely entertainment.
In addition to the invited guests whom we have named, there were about 170 ladies admitted to the gallery by invitation of the Mayoress, Mm. Fuller, for whom refreshments were alto provided. The ladies were all in full dress, so that the gallery presented a brilliant and fascinating appearance.

… following is the bill of fare :—

Mock Turtle Soup                       Oyster Soup
Kangaroo-tail Soup
Murray Cod                    Whiting a la Creme au Gratin
Oyster Patties
Supreme of Fowl                         Foies Gras a la Gelie
Epigrammes of Lamb                Fricandeau of Veal
Stewed Rump of Beef Flammande      Compote of Pigeons
Saddles of Mutton
Roast Turkeys Turkey Braised, a la Toulouse
Westphalia Ham
Spring Chicken a la Regence                 Roast Duckling
Haunch of Kangaroo
Guinea Fowl                                 Pea Fowl
Mayonnaise of Chicken                           Mayonnaise of Lobster
Pudding a la Prince Royal                       Baba and Apricots
Apples and Apricots Meringued           Savoy Cake
Dantzic Jelly                  Macedoine Jelly                         
Neapolitan Cake
Vanilla Creams                            Blanc Manger
Pears and Rice Transparente                Meringues a la Crème               Trifle
French Pastry                                             Iced Cream
Charlotte Parisienne                                Fruits, &c.
Brioche au Fromage

Instead of finding a recipe for one of the dishes on the menu, I decided to confirm the theme of the week and give you a birthday cake recipe from the era.

From the Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW ) of  Saturday, 22 October 1881:

Birthday Cake.
4 oz. of currants, 4oz. of sultanas, 2 oz. of citron, 6 oz. pf butter, 6 oz. of sugar, 1 lb. of flour, five eggs, a quarter of a teaspoonful of soda; mix the soda with the flour first, then rub in all the other ingredients; beat the eggs for a quarter of an hour, yolks and whites together, then add them to the mixture; if not quite moist enough, add a little milk. Bake for an hour and a half. Ice as directed below.

Almond Icing for the Above.

Blanch the almonds the day before required, that they may have time to dry, as they pound better when dry. When required for use, chop them finely, then pound in a mortar; mix with them a pound of finely-sifted sugar, one teaspoonful of rose water, and the whites of three eggs which have been beaten to a strong froth. When the cake is baked, draw it and spread the icing evenly over its surface, then put it in the oven again for ten minutes, or until the icing is a delicate brown.


Anonymous said...

"about 170 ladies admitted to the gallery ... for whom refreshments were alto provided" It sounds like they weren't invited to the "grand banquet," doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I've received a wonderful amount of edification, education, and entertainment from this blog over the last few years (as well as not a few good ideas for my own kitchen). Keep up the good work!

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Sandra. Ladies were definitely not allowed at public banquets at the time: it was not considered to appropriate. They were, however, allowed in the gallery to watch the proceedings, and listen to the speeches - but were expected to be in their best finery so as to add to the decor, (and presumably were expected to be grateful for the opportunity to admire and applaud the wonderfully clever men in their lives.)