This book, which I bought at the bookshop of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, is not exactly a cookbook, but it could serve that purpose if you wanted to live on native foods the way Aborignal people once lived. The author explains:
"There are different techniques for preparing and cooking each food. The most common methods are roasting on the coals, cooking in the ashes, steaming in a ground oven and boiling. Some foods, such as turtles, stingrays and sharks, are cooked by a process unique to themselves." (p. 51)Specialized knowledge enabled the natives to produce safe and tasty food. For example, cooks had to know which species of wood made good fires for cooking, and which produced bad tastes or even toxic smoke. Many plant foods required soaking or other preparation to remove toxins as well, and traditional knowledge of processing enabled the use of many otherwise poisonous items. Bush Food describes many of these procedures.
An important technique for native cooking involved using a ground oven -- a pit lined with hot rocks. Vegetables, fish, or meats wrapped in paper bark or leaves were covered with hot sand and steamed or roasted in the covered pit. Each tribe had its own special methods for building these ovens, and knowledge about how long to cook each type of food. Ground ovens are sometimes still used, according to the author, though aluminum foil often replaces the traditional wrappers. Also, hardware-store covered billies (pots) made from modern materials now offer a much more efficient way to steam foods over a campfire.
"Aboriginal people have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Australian plants and animals and of seasonal changes in the Australian environment," the author points out. These traditions are little known among European and Asian immigrants who have largely displaced the original inhabitants from their long-time lands and replaced native species with often-harmful imports. "Most Australians have never even tasted bush foods." (p. 13 & 11)
Searching for a better overview of really Australian foods, I found that CNN once published a list of 40 Australian foods. These mostly don't appear in The 200 years. Some examples: Australia's native Macadamia nuts, now grown in many other places; emu and kangaroo meat; a number of fish and seafood dishes made from the local catch; the Pavlova, a meringue and cream cake (disputed for origin between New Zealand and Australia); and several other favorite commercial and home-made pastries.
They both suggested one Australian classic of culinary advice: The Cook's Companion: The complete book of ingredients and recipes for the Australian kitchen by Stephanie Alexander. It's available, though quite expensive, from online booksellers in the US and Australia. Johanna also recommended a series of cookbooks from the Australian Women's Weekly. There are dozens of them, on many topics, published over at least the last 20 years.
|Covers from a few of the Australian Women's Weekly|
cookbooks listed on amazon.com.
Gaye also wrote: "A favourite from my grandmother's era was The Schauer Australian Cookery Book." Editions of this book are now rare. "Miss Schauer's excellent book first appeared in 1909 under the title of 'Theory of Cookery', and went into 12 editions, with a facsimile edition published in 1991," says another book dealer, adding the following:
"Amy Schauer taught cookery at the Brisbane Technical College, gave classes in invalid cookery at the Mater Hospital, and, during the 1914-18 war gave courses in basic field, camp and invalid cookery. ... Practical, public-spirited, involved in many charitable activities, she ended her days at Strathfield, Sydney, dying in in 1956."My selection of Australian cookbooks today celebrates Cookbook Wednesday, invented by Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations, and joined now by several other food bloggers.