|bush tucker, via caama|
There’s a few reasons for this, not the very least that native bush foods are trickier to cultivate, and so harder to find on shop shelves. But for a nation that’s still trying to come to terms with the past and current struggles of Aboriginal people, and still are far from having a deep knowledge and appreciation of Culture, art and food may help to bridge the gap. Food connects people, gives people part of a culture. Which is why I think it’s so important to try cooking with bush spices. (And because cooking with the same suite of spices can get damn boring.)
Bush spices access a completely different palate of tastes than we’ve come to be used to. They’re sweet, salty, warm and earthy all at the same time. They ground you. It’s hard to explain. You just have to go there. Most bush foods are also far more nutritious than the crops we call staples. The quandong fruit has twice as much vitamin C as an orange. Wattleseed is extremely high in fibre and protein.
Here’s a glorious range of bush spices to try (my faves) and a few ideas on what to do with them:
Kutjera – aka bush tomato. It has a caramelised smokey sundried tomato kinda flavour. It rocks with grilled chicken, in an omelette, or in a savoury muffin.
Wattleseed – tastes like coffee. Delicious in cakes or smoothies. Try my cacao, coconut and wattleseed smoothie.
The Myrtles – you’ve probably heard of lemon myrtle but there’s also aniseed myrtle and cinnamon myrtle. Lemon and aniseed myrtles are terrific with anything really, but especially good with lamb and fish. Cinnamon myrtle’s brilliant in tagines and curries as well as cakes.
Peppermint gum – like regular peppermint only... earthier. Drink it as a tea or mix with raw cacao powder for a pepperminty hot chocolate.
Strawberry gum – has a strawberry/eucalyptus flavour and works beautifully with anything berry flavoured, like jams, berry compotes, berry cheesecakes etc.
Pepperberry – tastes sweet and peppery and bleeds a pink colour. I’ve mixed ground pepperberry with yoghurt and spread it all over a whole chicken before roasting. Yes it was a pink chicken. It’d be equally good with game. Venison would be perfect.
And, in case you’re wondering, here’s where to buy them from. You can buy little sample packs online, like I did:
A Taste of the Bush
Bush Food Shop
Australian Bush Spices
And for recipes and more info:
Bush Tucker Recipes
Aus Bush Foods
Bush Food Sensations
Are you a bush food convert? If so, feel free to share your favourites below.
Also, if you'd like to support literacy initiatives in indigenous communities and you have a spare buck, think about donating to my Wall of Hands (the orange dubiwacky to the right of this page).