Masters of the art of adapting to this - sometimes hostile - environment, the aborigines use the bush tucker to feed and survive.
When thinking about Australia, people usually think about the beaches, the turquoise water, the surf and the lush landscapes. But behind this beauty lies a formidable nature for inexperienced explorers.
When I visited the Outback they told me that Lesson#1 to be the perfect adventurer is to have some notions of bush tucker diet. If it is not a question of survival, it is at least for the pleasure of cultivating and tasting new things.
So, you will ask me, what is the bush tucker diet?
The term “bush tucker” is typically Ozzie (Australian) and it means “food which comes from nature.” It refers to all animal and plant species living on this continent and allowing humans to eat in the bush (so it’s called the Australian hinterland).
The bush tucker diet comprises healthy foods, foods whose medicinal virtues are recognized worldwide as, among others, the macadamia nuts or the eucalyptus leaves. The bush foods perfectly embody the diversity of Australia's landscapes, both in their innumerable colours and surprising flavours. Some even offer delicate and unique flavours.
Considered the staple foods of the Aussie aboriginal culture, the bush tucker diet is primarily related to the natives’ culture, that of the people who occupied these lands for millennia before the British colonization.
The knowledge of the environment is the essence of their culture. They know how to use these resources to make the most out of them. In aboriginal culture, everything can be gathered, everything shall be used and nothing is to be thrown away or wasted. But beware, they believe that it’s important only to take what they need to preserve the fragile balance of nature. Fishing, hunting, farming and breeding of some animals depending on the region, the aborigines live mostly on a bush tucker diet.
They enjoy all the flavours of the Australian environment and honour each season for the food it brings.
When the first white settlers landed on the continent, some learned to use Aboriginal knowledge to feed themselves. These would have survived longer than the others. However, Westerners have always struggled to get used to certain dishes like insects or roots. Yet these unsavoury foods are valuable sources of health and are used in many modern remedies.
There are even some famous Aboriginal cooks who use ancestral knowledge and recipes to create typical and original dishes. It is in the bush that they find inspiration and ingredients.
What are the most common foods in the bush tucker diet?
For large carnivores and barbecue fans one can have unusual meats such as: kangaroo, emu, larvae, turtle (the turtle's neck is a favourite dish among the aborigines and they are the only ones who can eat this animal which is protected otherwise), crocodile and reptiles like snake and iguana.
The bush tucker diet includes many insects which are also considered the food of the future.
Some fruits and veggies include the wattle seed - grilled or ground to make flour - the quandon (wild peaches), the macadamia nuts - which can be eaten raw, grilled or in the form of oil, eucalyptus - very popular for its therapeutic virtues as a natural antiseptic – and bush bananas and tomatoes.