Australian native food: Traditional cuisine (series)

australian native food

After confirming the dates of my stay at an eco-resort in Port Douglas, Australia, I was sent a brochure that highlighted the major local attractions. The site where my stomping ground would be for the upcoming 3-weeks is in close proximity to the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. This is where two world heritage sites meet. The food menu depicted “modern Australian cuisine”. But, I wanted to indulge some authentic Australian native food or at least native food ingredients. And so I sent back my request to the hotel’s concierge and their team obliged.

Australia has a long food history that goes back before the arrival of European settlers. The Aboriginal people used much of the island’s native plants and animals in their diet. The group hunted sustainably and took great care to extract portions that were safe for consumption from these sources and prepared their meals accordingly to their own tradition. Some plants and animals were unsafe when eaten in the raw or were untreated. And some were poisonous. The peoples knew their food well and did have special cooking styles, which include pounding the ingredients and washing them to rid any toxins. Then, in some cases they let them hang to dry. Preparation methods include roasting meat and other foods over open fire, and boiling in water.

Rolled veal with Warrigal greens pesto.
Rolled veal with Warrigal greens pesto. Photo credit: SBS

Sadly, Australian native food is disappearing and giving way to “modern cuisine”. But according to The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Australian native food is making a comeback with many local restaurant embracing emu, crocodile, yabbies and eels, in addition to flavoring their dishes with bush tucker spices. There are now producers all over the country supporting these new industries, from Tasmanian pepper to Victorian eel farmers and, in particular, an innovative group of growers in South Australia who have initiated significant plantings of quandongs, bush tomatoes, and native citrus. In addition to the botanical produce, there is a wider availability of native Australian animal products on the market. It’s not uncommon to find kangaroo meat in the aisles of the supermarket (the sale of kangaroo meat was only recently legalized; however, it has quickly become popular due to its lean meat).



Article by: Ana Sabrina Mora