Besides the things we learned about the history of the native cuisine of the American culture, we can learn a lot about the aboriginal inhabitants of Australia, which have had a culture of eating animal and plant food for as long as the island continent of Australia has been inhabited by humans.
Their unique culinary tradition has stood the test of time – many of the foods present in their diet today still hold a place in many an aboriginal home, and for good reason: bush tucker, as it this tradition is colloquially known, is as much of a part of their culture as their concept of Dreamtime is – that is, totally integral to their material culture and their cultural identity.
That being said, what exactly makes bush tucker, “bush tucker”? What are the staples of proper bush tucker? What makes the topic so interesting as it still is today, such that pop culture still talks and does features on it?
Well, these are the questions we hope to answer by exploring what staples are to be found in the culinary tradition of bush tucker – what sets it apart from other indigenous cuisines, and what are the most iconic foods within its unique world.
We hope you’re ready to take a trip into this interesting culture – a tradition that spans thousands and thousands of years, and still going strong well into the 21st century. Get your shoes on, prepare for this trip into the Aboriginal headlands of Australia and make sure you’re fit when you get here. I even started extra workouts for this, before my first big trip, as I knew the area is big and you need to walk a LOT. I prefer an indoor bike for practice, due to my age, and recently bought one from Indoor Training Bikes. You can find plenty more via their homepage.
Anyway, I digress. We’re about to dive into the deep end.
Witchetty Grub: A Quintessential Bush Tucker Staple.
The witchetty grub, which is a large, wood-eating larva of the endemic cossid moth, is one of the most important and readily recognizable staples of bush tucker. It has been part of the Aboriginal diet for as long as Australia has been inhabited, and remains an important source of protein for the natives – its richness in flavor reminds some of almonds or fried egg.
The Wide Array Of Bush Meats.
Living in the harsh conditions of the Australian outback puts meat at a premium. Fortunately, there are plenty of sources of meat available out in the desert – that of kangaroo meat, emu meat, wild turkey, snake meat, lizard meat, echidna meat, among other available meats such as crocodile or possum meat in the great outback. As kangaroo is plentiful, it is undoubtedly the most popular meat in the desert.
Bush Bananas And Tomatoes.
The outback, despite its harsh conditions, is actually home to a great variety of fruit, tubers, and vegetables – but undoubtedly some of the most common staples are the bush banana and the bush tomato, which are integral elements in bush tucker and aboriginal cooking.
Sweets And Desserts.
The aboriginal diet includes sweets such as the honeypot ant – these insects who swell up with honey are a real treat for anyone who wants to experience bush tucker in its purest form. The same is true for the nectar-bearing plants in the desert, such as the bulrush, grass tree, corkwood tree, and the banksia, whose nectars are made into sweet drinks by the aborigines.
Bush tucker is definitely something to try when you come and visit Australia – it is the continuing tradition of cuisine that can be traced to our earliest ancestors, a cuisine that transcends through time, despite changing tastes – here’s to thousands of years more to feed and to preserve the heritage of bush tucker.