27 September 2023

State Library puts heat on dinner menus

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The State Library has turned its temperature up a few degrees to host a new exhibition of hidden stories of restaurant and dinner menus emerging from the Library’s extensive menu collection.

Named Sweet and Savoury, The State Library said the exhibition explores the hidden stories of restaurant and dinner menus from South Australian restaurants celebrating cuisines worldwide.

It said highlights from the exhibition include:

* The Library’s oldest South Australian menu, dating back to 1867;
* A harsh critiqueon the menu of THE Restaurant, known for its fine dining; * A menu written on a cleaver and menus from iconic South Australian restaurants such as Nediz Tu, Mistress Augustine’s, Possums, The Magic Flute and The Pheasant Farm.

Director of the State Library of South Australia, Geoff Strempel said the exhibition showed the diversity of the State Library’s collection.

“Some people might not see the importance of collecting and preserving menus for future generations, but they can tell us so much more than what was on the menu,” Mr Strempel said.

“The menu collection holds the history of changing trends in food, dining, restaurants, and menu design, and reflects the social history of the time, such as Adelaide’s culinary revolution that took hold during the Don Dunstan era of the 1970s,” he said.

Geoff Strempel said the menus are kept as part of the Library’s ephemera collection.

“Ephemera is material which is designed to be short-lived such as posters, handbills, programs, wine labels, and advertising material,” Mr Strempel said.

“However, these everyday ephemeral items are a record of South Australian life and social customs, arts and popular culture, and local and national issues,” he said.

The exhibition will be on until the end of June and will include photographs of restaurants and two short films, A Taste of Adelaide in the 1970s and Hotel Elizabeth from the late 1950s to early 1960s.

For more information on the exhibition, visit this PS News link.

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