Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Australian Regional Food - Looking Back 3: Catering for Large Numbers

In my first post on this topic I indicated that one of the reference sources that I was using was the CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints.

I covered the history of the Country Women's Association of NSW in an earlier post on the New England, Australia blog. In short, the CWA was established in all Australian states to provide mutual support for often isolated country women.

One feature of country cooking was the way in which country women had to cook for very large numbers often using very limited ingredients. This might happen during shearing, working bees or at social gatherings. In the case of the CWA itself, the organisation generated funds by catering at stock sales and country shows.

These needs come through in the first part of the Cookery Book. So the first item is catering for 50 people followed by afternoon tea at a Fete. In the case of the Fete, the Book advises allowing 2 sandwiches, 2 pieces of cake and half a scone per person. Instructions are then provided on the quantities required.

After dealing with a wedding breakfast for 100 guests, the Book provides catering details for serving approximately 300 adults at a public stock sale with a lunch consisting of cold meat and salad with sweet to follow. Then there are descriptions of a potato salad for 100, pea soup for 120.

Reflecting limited money and ingredients, the food can best be described as plain. Thus for sweets to serve 300 adults at a public stock sale you need:
  • a large baked custard
  • 2 large triffles
  • 2 cases of apples
  • 6 tins of fruit
  • 2 and half kilos (5lbs) of pastry.

The book notes that sweets may be varied according to availability of material (ie cream, fruit etc).

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