Saturday, September 29, 2012

Waterside Inn

Croc at Sunset

Wow! This time last year we were off to Darwin! Our trip to the Northern Territory gave me a different food perspective, not an eating experience, but an interesting insight into some Bush tucker tricks employed by the native indigenous Australians. On our river cruises along crocodile infested water, it was surprising to hear about the variety of foods that were available in the river and on the banks, in addition to the crocs themselves.

Melaleuca Paperbark Trees
After catching the barramundi that are prolific in the Kakadu waters, the Melaleuca, paper bark was used to wrap the fish and give it distinctive flavours. One of the most interesting aspects was that different trees would give off different flavours - thus the indigenous people could have their choice of "seasonings."

Pandanus Tree
There were a few other anecdotes that sparked my interest: Pandanus, another edible waterside offering, provided fruit and leaves to wrap and scent food, as well as weave into baskets. The plentiful lotus flowers and lily pads around the river systems were popular, as seeds and roots could both be eaten.

Finally (or rather the last thing that sticks in my brain!), an alternative fishing method was to grind up the mangrove leaves into a poison to float in the water. The stunned fish floated to the surface and the indigenous people could collect them much easier!

As I reflect now a year on, from the comfort of my living room, with my fridge and spice rack a few metres away, and a supermarket across the road, it's fascinating to transport myself to another world where food stuffs come from the earth and ingenious methods are employed to enhance basic meals.

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