From pigeon pie to pavlova: Mum's cooking in the 60s

Dinner time in Australia in the 50s and 60s was very much a meat-and-three-veg fare. Meat was overcooked and vegetables were baked or steamed to slops. Dessert wasn’t much better: canned fruit with cream or rice pudding!

But things weren’t always so drab. Back in the 1850s, Australian’s had a bolder palette (mostly out of necessity), making the early settlers very experimental with what was local and native. Thus were born dishes like Kangaroo tail Soup, Parrot Pie, Roast Galah, Stewed Cockatoo and Wallaby Pie.

roast wallaby recipe

In the early 1900s, Australian’s became disenchanted with bush tucker as began the great urban sprawl and peas and gravy accompanied everything!

Call her the Captain Cook of food pioneering, Margaret Fulton was Australia’s first food guru, helping Australian’s out of their food funk (with a little help from the White Australia Policy).

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When in 1968, Fulton published her first book, The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, all sorts of new dishes began to appear on Australian dinner tables: French Onion soup, Pink Lamb with Wine jus, Crème Caramel and Chocolate Mousse (to name a few).


When flying first class was for the super starched executive top tier, Fulton flew first class all over the world, bringing back recipes to be published in Australian Women’s Magazines: Women’s Day (1960-1979) and New Idea (1979-2000).

Recently I acquired a second hand copy of Margaret Fulton’s, Book of Home Baking. Many recipes are traditional sponge cakes until halfway through when page after page is filled with decadent, moist, multi-layered gateaux. This made me reminisce of a treat my Mum used to make fur us kids back in the day. Mum’s go-to cake when we were growing up, baked only for birthdays and special occasions was the Black Forest Cake.

black forest

Back before you added an egg and milk to the packet mix, Mum could take all day long to make this cake. Three layers of cooled and creamed sponge later, it was always a delight to see it come together and make its debut at special occasions. No matter how awkward or heated a family get together could be, all things were right in the world again when that chocolate cherry laden plate made its’ appearance.

Tell us, what did your Mum make for special occasions? Do you remember eating overcooked meat and sloppy steamed veggies?