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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: melbourne food and wine festival (4)

Bugs for Brunch

by Adrienne Leith
Publish date
28 March 2012
Comments (5)

Adrienne creates and presents public programs at Melbourne Museum.

What do you eat when you are having bugs for brunch?

Well, scorpions for starters, followed by BBQ-flavoured mealworms. Or perhaps you prefer your mealworms simply roasted with a dipping sauce? And would you like crunchy crickets with that?

A plate of roasted mealworms and crickets. A plate of roasted mealworms and crickets.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto

More than 3,000 ethnic groups in 113 countries eat insects and other invertebrates, and in many places they are preferred over beef, pork and lamb. Producing insects generates fewer greenhouse emissions than for other forms of meat production and you get more for the same effort: less feed produces more protein. This means a high-protein and low-fat food source that leaves a smaller environmental footprint. While eating insects makes environmental sense, it's pretty confronting to many of us.

Developed as a children's program for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the Bugs for Brunch events ran over four days and tickets sold out fast. Surprisingly, there were just as many young adults as children (with their parents) who came along learn about – and taste - edible bugs. They wanted to do something different, something fun, something with their friends and family. But were they ready to eat bugs?

Most declared they were slightly squeamish and only a few had ever eaten a bug. After being shown how many bugs are already in our food, they were even more grossed out.

But with tastes of bug vomit (delicious honeycomb from Mount Dandenong) to sweeten them up, and up close and personal viewings of all kinds of edible bugs from Bogong Moths and bardy grubs to scorpions, grasshoppers and Chilean Rose tarantulas (Grammostola rosea), people's opinions shifted.

Woman holding beetle grub A bardy grub (beetle larva) at Bugs for Brunch.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto

After seeing lots of images of people eating bugs, looking through bug recipe books and watching a Pad Thai being made with mealworms, they were ready to eat! Lollypops with bugs in them and mealworm chocolate chip cookies gave them a soft approach to the "whole bug in mouth" experience. But by the end, those roasted toasted whole bug snacks were being scoffed. They couldn't get enough and every plate was empty by the end.

Pad Thai with mealworms. Pad Thai with mealworms.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto

The Bugs for Brunch program was developed and delivered by Patrick Honan and Rowena Flynn from the museum's Live Exhibits team and Adrienne Leith from Education and Community Programs. The insects at the Bugs for Brunch event came from one of the country's few consumable insect producers and were bred under hygienic conditions that comply with Australian Food Standards.


Edible Forest Insects, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Queen Cakes

by Kate C
Publish date
15 March 2011
Comments (10)

Last week, just in time for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Eliza Duckmanton's Recipe & Remedy book was added to Collections Online. This blog post pays tribute to her in the most delicious way.

Eliza Duckmanton was a bush nurse and mother of 12 who lived in Dunkeld, Victoria. She created the book in 1870 and its contents - recipes for cakes, pickles, jams, jellies and biscuits - reveal what pioneer women cooked for their families. Eliza's book of clippings and handwritten recipes is also dotted with the odd sketch.This treasure was passed down the generations of the Duckmanton family until it was donated to Museum Victoria in 2002.

While the food section in any bookshop today is spilling over with cookbooks about every kind of edible, published cookbooks were relatively uncommon in Victorian times. The English & Australian Cookery Book written by Walter Abbott in 1864 is considered the first Australian cookbook. Recipes were handed around between friends and family members, or torn from newspapers, and compiled in books like Eliza's. Hers is particularly interesting for its remedies, too - her cure for cancer is a concoction containing saltpetre, sulphur and molasses!

I quite liked the idea of reviving one of Eliza's cake recipes, so on the weekend I baked her Queen Cakes. I assume these are named for Queen Victoria but would love to know the full story if there are any food historians reading. Although Eliza didn't specify that Queen Cakes are baked in individual cases, my copy of the CWA cookbook did. The recipe is transcribed below along with a few changes I made to the order of operations.

As I cooked, I thought about the 140-odd years between Eliza and I. My ingredients came in neat supermarket packages and an electric mixer saved me a lot of elbow grease. Eliza might have made her own butter and hauled home sacks of drygoods. She probably collected and chopped the wood that fuelled her oven and it certainly didn't have a thermostat. Despite this, I'm sure her cakes were just as buttery, dense and delicious as the modern remake. 

Queen Cakes Queen Cakes made from Eliza Duckmanton's 1870 recipe.
Source: Museum Victoria

Queen Cakes

1 lb flour

½ lb butter

½ lb pounded loaf sugar

3 eggs

1 teacupful of cream

½ lb currants

1 teaspoonfull of soda

Work the butter to a cream. Dredge in the flour and add the sugar and currants. Mix the ingredients well together. Whisk the eggs, when fluffy, mix the cream and flavouring and stir these to the flour, add the soda, beat the paste well for 10 minutes, bake from ¼ to ½ hour.

*Changes made: I creamed butter and sugar together, then added eggs and cream, mixed lightly, and cooked about 15 minutes at 180ºC. This made about 20 small cakes.

Seafood for dinner?

by Blair
Publish date
7 March 2011
Comments (3)

This post is another in our special series during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Sometimes I wonder how we eat the seafood we do.

Take scallops, for example. With their plump and juicy meat, they are coveted for our dinner plates and in top restaurants around the world. But what are we really eating?

Well, there’s the shell, more for presentation than eating, characteristically circular with ridges radiating from a rectangular hinge that holds the animal protected inside.

Shells of edible scallops Shells of edible scallops, Pecten fumatus from 1970s Fisheries material.
Source: Museum Victoria

And there’s the body. Unlike oysters, they don’t sit tight and daintily nurture pearls. Instead, they focus on moving small distances by squirting jets of water from between their shell halves, building muscle mass inside equivalent to a bodybuilder’s bicep, all for our eating pleasure (and also to flap away from predators like octopuses and sea stars I guess).

Scallops for sale at Victoria Market Scallops for sale at the Queen Victoria Market. The white part is mostly muscle, while the orange part is known as 'roe'.
Source: Museum Victoria

And what is that orange-brown blobby bit that tastes so gelatinously good? Gonads. A factory that pumps out hundreds of eggs and sperm into the water with the hope that some don’t get eaten or swept away into unsuitable habitat.

But sitting on the bottom in sand or silty mud can attract parasitic friends like trematodes and nematodes. (I won’t go into how many fish parasites a scientist sees under a microscope or you may never eat sushi again.)

Is it revolting to eat the disgusting? I suspect not, so long as some chef goes about his or her masterful ways to clean and transform the disgusting into the delicious.

Oh and if you’re interested...

Scallops probably have the most eyes in the animal kingdom – they can have hundreds of eyes along the edge of their mantle. Exactly what sort of pictures they see we cannot be sure. Their shells reach about 14 cm in length and they live on shallow sandflats to waters over 100 metres deep. Their diet of floating food, such as plankton, is filtered from the water. Some species move short distances, others make more permanent homes on the reef, often becoming so encrusted with coral and sponge growth that they are barely recognisable. They were commercially harvested in Port Phillip Bay until 1996, nowadays they are taken from Bass Strait. Several species were thought to occur within the range of the common variety we eat, Pecten fumatus, but recent genetic work suggests they are all the same species.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

by Kate C
Publish date
3 March 2011
Comments (0)

The annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival starts tomorrow and MV is hosting events at Melbourne Museum, the Royal Exhibition Building and the Immigration Museum. It seemed the perfect time to ask the History and Technology curators to suggest some foodie collection items for a series of MFWF posts.

It's hard to imagine Melbourne's food scene without an Italian influence. The flush of Italian migrants that arrived here following World War II brought with them the foundations of the café culture so prevalent across Melbourne today. Some early cafés still survive; Don Camillo near Victoria Market, and Pellegrini's in Bourke St being two well-know examples. Many Italian migrants also started food manufacturing businesses to satisfy the appetites of the migrant population, and, increasingly, the wider community that embraced Italian cuisine. One of these businesses, La Tosca, was founded in 1947 and still produces pasta today.

'La Tosca' Ravioli label 'La Tosca' Ravioli label for labelling tins of food produced by La Tosca Food Processing Company in the 1970s.
Source: Museum Victoria

Curator Moya McFadzean talks about the La Tosca roller in this video from The Melbourne Story website:

La Tosca tools and package labels are on display in The Melbourne Story exhibition, which is also the venue for Melbourne's Culinary Story. This festival event features special guest Charmaine O’Brien, author of Flavours of Melbourne, a Culinary Biography and Victorian wines and produce. If you mention MV Blog when booking you will get the MV Members discount  - call 13 11 02 for bookings.


Selling Pasta to Melbourne - the La Tosca story

Marvellous Melbourne: Café Culture

Borghesi Family Collection on Collections Online

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.