Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Aboriginal food-our native cuisine

30 second video on Aboriginal food by Ourdreamings

The video below is of Chef Mark Olive, the first ever Aboriginal TV chef.

Click here to read: German crew filming chef Mark Olive in Australia (article)

The term "aborigine" refers to the original inhabitants or natives of the land.  Aborigines are also based in Canada, Taiwan, Philippines and America. 

Australian Aboriginals have lived on this land for over 50,000 years. They have a deep spiritual connection to their country.

"The Aboriginal occupation of Australia exceeds 1200 human generations compared with a maximum of 8 generations of European occupation." http://www.atlas.sa.gov.au/  
Government of South Australia 2000 - 2012

Prior to European colonisation of Australia, Aboriginal people were hunters and gathers. They were nomadic (moving from place to place to forage for food). The indigenous used shells, bone and rock to make tools to source food. String, cord and hair were woven into nets, baskets, mats and fishing lines. Nets were also used to trap animals. Throwing sticks (or boomerangs) would mame prey in order to make it easier to catch. Not all throwing sticks were designed to return. Grinding stones would grind seeds or grains into flour.

As foods were gathered according to their availability and what was in season, the native diet was varied and nutritionally balanced.  Exercise was at a high!  Excessive foods were not eaten except for feasts.

Fruit, manna, honey, lizards, snakes, kangaroo, witchetty grubs, roots, yams, grass seeds were all sourced for food.
A range of Kangaroo products currently sold in national supermarkets
Kangaroo burgers are sold in supermarkets nationally in 2012
The indigenous did not farm the land, plant or harvest crops or herd animals.  Food was selected purely for nutritional purposes so as to sustain energy and life.  Preservation was very limited.  Local knowledge of which plants were edible, palatable, or delicious, harvest and preparation methods were passed down by word of mouth to the next generation. They did not boil water or make jams and preserves. They didn't trade. Foods eaten were dependant on the season.  The skills of the hunter were VITAL to the survival of the tribe. Men hunted in groups. A 'walkabout" implies aimless wandering but it was anything but! It has been estimated the Aboriginal people would spend between 1/4 to 1/3 of their day gathering food. Everything was done for the group.

Even though Gov Macquarie tried to teach the natives to farm, they were not used to this a way of life. 

It has been reported that 90% of Aboriginal people perished during 1788 and 1900 due to introduced disease, violence and fights with new settlers and loss of land, which was their main source of food.

Native Australian herbs currently sold at supermarkets within Australia
Below are two videos presented by  Brenda McBride, an Aboriginal lady from the Kamilaroi language group.  These short videos are apart of a group of documentaries called "Through our eyes". On location, Brenda shares stories of how the Aboriginal people sourced their food.

Let's crowd source. What additional information about Aboriginal food prior to British colonisation, can you share?


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