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Historical menus show parrot, pigeon, kangaroo were common fare at Queensland functions

Oyster patties were common food found on the menu in 1900s.
Oyster patties and boned pigeon were common food found on the menu in 1900s.

Supplied: State Library of Queensland

From parrots served at weddings, to ox tail for afternoon tea, Queensland's dining past has been filled with creatures great and small.

The State Library of Queensland recently unearthed menus found from social events held between 1900 and 1939.

Charred kangaroo tail resting on native branches.
Kangaroo tail was served roasted or as a soup for many functions.

ABC: Catherine Heuzenroeder

Weddings, local government association events and university dinner menus showed the varied foods that were eaten during the day.

"Food tells you so much about the social interests of the day," said research librarian Christina Ealing-Godbold.

"The important thing about food is that it's part of our culture and in Queensland we always had printed menus that included toasts to the parliament and the king."

The starter

Starters were always oysters due to the many oyster farms found off the shores of Moreton Bay.

"Oysters as well as oyster soup were a favourite and there were oyster bars everywhere in Brisbane at that time," she told ABC Radio Brisbane's David Curnow.

Oysters on a plate
Oysters and oyster patties were a favourite as a starter.

ABC News: Gregor Salmon

Kangaroo tail soup was another popular starter, made often with muscle joints rolled in flour and browned in the pan.

"Some recipes would tell you if you cooked the soup on a campfire, kamikaze insects would add protein to the pot unless you cover it."

The main

According to the historical menus, every good starter was followed with a fish course usually served with a lemon sauce.

Parrot was often cooked and served for dinners in Queensland.
Parrot was served roasted at special dinners throughout Queensland.

Supplied: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

"The fish would be snapper, whiting or sometimes mullet, depending on what was in season," Ms Ealing-Godbold said.

"Roast meat would then be served with stuffing, potatoes and minted peas.

Large cold cuts platters would be used as features at dinners and afternoon teas for returned soldiers.

"They would have cold roast beef, pineapple ham, Queensland ham or York ham as well as cold ox tongue."

The dessert

The final course at many social events would include cold desserts such as jelly or ice puddings.

Bowl of trifle.
Trifle with jelly, sponge and custard were often served during hot weather.

Flickr: Nathan Jones

"The commercialisation of gelatine made these desserts popular," Ms Ealing-Godbold said.

Peach Melba, fruit salad, prunes in port wine and trifle sated many sweet tooths, but the dessert that always featured was charlotte russe.

"It was invented by a French chef and was sponge fingers which lined a bowl and was then layered with jelly and filled with cream.

"It was often served with ice-cream but it was decorated better than a trifle and the chef would cut shapes of fruit and lay it out on top."

An old menu from the World War I era included morning and afternoon tea.
Large platters of ox tongue, corned and spiced beef were often on the menu.

Supplied: State Library of Queensland