A Commonwealth Festival Perth 2011 Event
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Soup or Consomme?

Soups were probably consumed not long after the invention of water proof containers that could be heated to create them.

Throughout history various types of soup have been described; from Plutarch making mention of μέλας ζωμός (black broth) consisting of boiled pig’s legs, pork and vinegar, a soup which fortified the Spartans when going into battle, to Warhol’s use of mass produced soups in commenting upon popular culture.

Initially soups were thick and visibly full of ingredients, but in the late Middle Ages a finer sort of soup, the Consommé, was invented. Over time, this finer soup was transformed into the clear but very flavoursome dish we know today. Due to the complexity of the process in creating Consommé it has retained its place as a soup of refinement that is favoured at formal occasions.

In WA, the State archives reveal that clear soup or consommé has likewise been preferred for State functions. During the 1920 visit to WA by the Prince of Wales, a visit that included his famous escape from injury during a train derailment near Manjimup, the organizers were informed that he was “not keen about soup – if any ‘clear’ preferred". 1 In 1927, at a State Luncheon was held on the occasion of the visit by a Parliamentary delegation from Britain investigating the Group Settlement scheme. Led by the Secretary of State for the Dominions L.S. Amery M.P., a soup was served at this luncheon that is simply described as “Clear".2

The glutinous turtle soup was popular among upper echelons of Victorian and Edwardian society due it being considered a delicacy and a sign of privilege. In WA in the 20th century turtle soup had a clear soup makeover on a number WA’s State occasions. A turtle consommé, rather than the lumpy soup offering of previous times, was served for the visit to Perth by the Federal Cabinet to Perth in 1935 and likewise it was served for the 1971 State Dinner to celebrate the population of WA reaching one million.

1.   SROWA, Premier’s Department, Cons 1496, Item 1920/0316, H.R.H State Banquet, Letter from Brig. General Lloyd to Shapcott, 11 June 1920
2.  SROWA, Premier’s Department, Cons 1496, item 1935/0382, State Dinner, Luncheons Balls etc Details of arrangements necessary

Images of the 1920 visit of the Prince of Wales have been provided by WEST AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPERS and are © THE WEST AUSTRALIAN


Image Courtesy of State Library of Western Australia (599B)

The State Records Office invites you to pick up your fork and join us in Eating the Archives - an online exhibition and event that forms part of the Commonwealth Festival Perth 2011.

Witness history come alive on Friday 28 October at 12.00pm in the Perth Cultural Centre as celebrated WA chef Hadleigh Troy of Restaurant Amusé interprets and reinvents menus from the State archives collection using fresh, local produce with a modern twist. 

Twenty lucky West Australians will join State Archivist Cathrin Cassarchis and some well-known guests to experience Hadleigh Troy’s take on these historic menus.

Eating the Archives is a partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Food; and the dishes presented will reflect a Buy West Eat Best ethos, showcasing premium West Australian produce.

The online exhibition will take you on a culinary journey to experience food fashions of the past and gain an insight into how these events have shaped today’s food culture and informed WA’s identity. This exhibition will be served up in three courses; Appetiser, Banquet and Dessert. Come back and sample more food related offerings from the State archives collection and follow us on our journey.

Eating the Archives is an event for all to celebrate as chef Hadleigh Troy pays tribute to a bygone culinary era, bringing a small part of WA’s history alive through food.

See and hear Hadleigh begin his journey...

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