Public Dinner for Eyre


Public Dinner for Eyre

There was criticism in the papers of the high cost of the dinner held on 26th August to honour Eyre. At two guineas a head during a recession, many were excluded who would have liked to attend. The Adelaide Independent carped that: “The result in the present instance was that only the wealthy were present, while many of the more respectable and better behaved classes were excluded.” Despite this, seventy prominent South Australians paid up and came. When we consider the food listed below it is easy to understand why the dinner was expensive. What is particularly surprising is that the colony was not yet 5 years old and was on the brink of insolvency. The Adelaide Independent recorded the meal:

The dinner consisted of soups of four kinds, including one made from the tails of kangaroos, which the veriest gourmand in Europe would have discussed in perfect ecstasy.

[Meats included] turkeys, geese, ducks, capons, pullets, quarters of lamb, rounds and sirloins of beef and saddles of mutton that the most topping poulterers and butchers in Leadenhall Market [London] would not have been ashamed of at Christmas time.

For game, Mr Edwards was obliged to make his guests put up with kangaroo, wild turkey, the mountain duck, black and wood ducks, widgeon and teal, native hens, bronze-winged pigeons, quail of three different kinds, the water rail and the land rail.

Those maligners of the colony, those croakers who have declared that it will produce nothing, should have witnessed the splendid vegetables that were placed on the table. They consisted of all the European vegetables of the finer sorts, but of a size and flavour far superior. There were brobdingnagian cauliflowers and broccoli that would have made an English market gardener give up his profession in despair of having anything to equal them; peas, beans, carrots, turnips, celery, beet, lettuce etc etc etc in the greatest profusion.

As an accompaniment to all these, there were tarts made of different kinds of European fruits, sweet puddings, jellies and blancmanges. In the dessert this entertainment certainly fell short of an European one, as only dried fruits could be procured, except for oranges and apples from the sister colonies; but give us another year or two and we shall equal, if not surpass, any nation in Europe in those delicious productions.

As respects the music, we have only to say that the well known talent of Messrs Edwards, Ewens, and Bennett, assisted by Mr Hayward, was secured for the occasion, to make it known that it was of the first order. We think those gentlemen completely surpassed their former efforts.

The South Australian Register mentioned in addition: “The wines, in all their variety, were also excellent.”