The Colonial Cookbook by The Aristologist

The Colonial Cookbook – Introduction

The Colonial Cookbook was written by Edward Abbott under the pseudonym The Australian Aristologist. It was the first Australian cookbook published (1864) even though it was printed in London. The full title was the unwieldly “The English and Australian Cookery Book. Cookery for the Many, as Well as for the “Upper Ten Thousand””.

Edward Abbott was born in Australia in 1801. His father was a Canadian who was also called Edward Abbott and was very active in the early political and judicial life of the new English colony of New South Wales.

He moved with his family to Tasmania in 1815 when his father was appointed to a legal position there. He was granted land on the Derwent River in 1823 and in 1839 he established the newspaper called Hobart Town Advertiser.

He then turned his attention to politics becoming a member of the newly established House of Assembly as the member for Clarence on the eastern shore of the Derwent River. He was also a member of the Clarence council until close to his death in 1869.

He was buried in St Mark’s church yard in Bellerive and his gravestone is still there today. Many years ago when we launched one of our editions of the book A Food Lovers’ Guide to Tasmania we set up a table laden with food from Tasmanian producers next to his grave to pay honour to his contribution to food in Australia.

The Tasmanian Times published an obituary on Monday 5th April 1869, which mentioned his book, immediately following his death, under the title “The Late Edward Abbott, Esq:

Some six years ago Mr Abbott published “The English and Australian Cookery Book – by An Australian Aristologist”, a very readable book indeed, and eminently characteristic of the author’s peculiar studies, favourite pursuits, and natural humour.

The Colonial Cookbook – The Book

The Colonial Cook Book by The Aristologist is a fascinating guide to the food scene in colonial Tasmania in the middle of the 19th Century. He was growing 26 different varieties of basil in this British colony at the time!

He was also deeply into eating the local fauna including possums and wallaby. One of the most interesting recipes in the book is for Slippery Bob which is a dish of battered kangaroo brains cooked in emu fat. He also mentions mutton birds that are an important food source for Tasmania’s first peoples.

The Colonial Cookbook is quite idiosyncratic with random quotes scattered throughout the text and the occasional poem used to illustrate a point he is making. There are 12 main chapters in the book:

  • The Huswife’s Guide to the Better Ordering of Her Household
  • Soups and Broths
  • Sauces, Flavourings and Accompaniments
  • Fish
  • Meat, Poultry and Game
  • Vegetables and Salads, Pasta and Rice
  • Pastry, Puddings and Confectionery
  • Bread, Cakes and Biscuits
  • Dairy Food
  • Refreshing and Intoxicating Tipple for all Occasions
  • All About Preserving
  • A Gentlewoman’s Guide to All Occasions

There are many recipes discussed in The Colonial Cookbook and Abbott is generally generous with naming the source for the recipes if they are not one of his.

You can read a short biography of his life by clicking on the link below:

Edward Abbott Biography

We have also included this book in our Foodtourist Top Fifty Cookbooks.

You can buy The Colonial Cookbook by clicking on the link below. We receive a small percentage of the sale which goes towards maintaining this site.

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