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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Aborigines of Australia

Excerpt From Terrific Pacific Cookbook, by Anya Von Bremzen and John Welchman

"Twenty thousand years ago the earliest inhabitants of Australia made omelets with the blue-green eggs of the giant emu and winter casseroles with a hare-size marsupial called a battong.  They feasted on freshwater shellfish, and roasted thirty-pound golden perch in hot ashes on the shores of Lake Mungo  Special nuts and the root-like stem of the lotus lily were their delicacies.  Some of the preparations were quite elaborate.  Ancient stone pounders and grinders have been found, which were presumably used for pulverizing seeds and other plant foods.

...A range of wild foods in Australia is remarkable.  A rundown of just some of the fruits alone, which were given colorful names by the first settlers, reads like a hymn to the pickings of another planet: little gooseberry, corduroy tamarind, prickly and native currants, coffee berry, ooray (also known as Davidson's plum), the fruit of the persimmon-like sea ebony, the blue guandong, ruby saltbush, native kumquat or desert lemon (made by one traveler 'into a dish very like gooseberry-fool'), the cherry-like fruit of the lillypilly, native guava, Moreton Bay and cluster figs, the fruit of the bread tree of the Lynd (the same traveler wrote that "when ripe it was slightly pulpy and acidulous, and reminded me of the taste of coarse German rye bread), mutries (native apples), emu berries, purple peas, the coastal wongi, finger-lime, native raspberries, yellow elderberries, native melons, grapes, and passion fruit."

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