“This is a book about Australian food. Not the food that European Australians cooked from ingredients they brought with them, but the unique flora and fauna that nourished the Aboriginal peoples of this land for over 50,000 years. It was to try and understand why European Australians have almost entirely rejected these foods for over 200 years that I wrote this book.”
We celebrate cultural and culinary diversity, yet shun the foods that grew here before white settlers arrived. We love ‘superfoods’ from remote, exotic locations, yet reject those that grow in our own land. We say we revere sustainable local produce, yet ignore Australian native plants and animals that are better for the land than those from Europe.
In this, the most important of his books, John Newton boils down these paradoxes by arguing that we need to eat the foods that will help attune us to this land and, he believes, play a part in reconciling us with its first inhabitants.
Along the way, he documents the devastation visited on the indigenous inhabitants by our forcibly removing them from their food sources and the foods that had nourished them.
Newton also shows how the tide is turning. European Australians are beginning to accept and love the flavours of our own foods, everything from kangaroo to quandongs, from fresh muntries to the latest addition, the magpie goose.
And working with and learning from indigenous Australians, new and sustainable industries growing these foods are taking root around the country. We must walk together. The two cultures walking together will create something that’s going to find a positive way ahead.
Newton’s argument for this change is made more persuasive by recipes from chefs such as Peter Gilmore, Maggie Beer, and René Redzepi’s sous chef Beau Clugston who show that cooking and eating the native fruits, meats, herbs and spices that sustained people for millennia is nourishing – and delicious.
This is a food book that will change the way you look at Australia.