The Importance of Indigenous Ingredients.
Recently I've spent some time with Hunter, Harper and Banjo foraging.
We've explored from the beach rock pools and sand dunes up to the forests and fields amongst the Southern Highlands. We're not looking for anything in particular although there's always a keen eye for wild fennel, crab apples, flowering tea tree and paperbarks to name a few.
We do it to explore our backyard, the Illawarra is our new home after moving here four years ago. Having the beach and the highlands a mere 60 mins away from each other opens up so many opportunities to discover, explore and learn. To be able to collect samphire and pig face one afternoon for dinner and then explore the pine forests the next morning in search of wild mushrooms for lunch is not something everyone can say they get to do to often.
Our children enjoy the outdoors, sure theres the 'are we there yet' question asked 1000 times, but you're normally guaranteed at least some sleep time and peace and quiet to reflect. Once we arrive in a new location the kids are 122% into the experience. It's wonderfully magical and delightful to see the children grasp the idea that food does't grow on supermarket shelves and to take an avid interest in food that grows in their 'backyard'.
And they're getting good at spotting and smelling what's around. 'Dad, lemon myrtle' all at once they'll shout and sure enough their young eyes and noses are correct. They learn quick too, really quick. It will take me some time to research what a plant looks like, what other plants look like it, its' habitat and preferred climate to finally identifying them correctly but for them, they just need to be showed once and they're bang on every time.
It also makes me proud to know as parents we haven't ruined our kids taste buds with too much sugar or processed foods and for them to taste a relatively bitter leaf or a salty stem and say 'mmmm daddy this is yum' is really cool. This food is our countrys', it's unique and adventurous but we know so little about it. We've lost the knowledge and techniques of our indigenous culture and who knows if we've left it too long to ever learn it all again.
It's important for our children to be the pathway to what makes this country so special, so unique and so beautiful. They are the conduit for our future and not only be teaching them at a young age to be at the forefront but also to help build the legacy I'm creating.
We're trying to do it with our meads when we combine true Australian flavours that reflect our modern unique approach to our meads.
Heard of a native botanical or an indigenous ingredient we should look into? Let us know below!