Firstly, over the weekend I was travelling and preparing to move, so you’ll have to forgive my lack of MoFo blogging, but over on my Instagram and Twitter you may have seen some brief updates for Late Night Snack day, a meal at Tea Master in-between, and Comfort food day. Now we’re on to –
Vegan Month of Food –
Week 2: 7th-13th November 2016 International Week
November 7th: Close to Home – Make a food from your own country, state, or hometown.
I could’ve gone with something colonialesque like a cheerful sugary pavlova or chocolatey lamingtons… but nope, delicious as those are, I’ve got my Nope hat on today – the Nope is strong in this one. Soooo rather than rant and rave about the various horrors of colonialism and the many white lies Australian history books tell (further reading: Black Founders) instead I’ll share some photos of when my family harvested some indigenous food – bunya nuts!
The food had great significance to Aboriginal Australians who held an enormous bunya harvest, feast, and trade festival every few years that thousands of people would attend… terra nullius, indeed. :/ The last gathering was held around 1902 before a great deal of the bunya trees were felled to make way for timber plantations.
Bunya nuts, found predominantly in South-East Queensland, are found inside enormous football size (at least!) cones from enormous 30-45m (98-148ft) bunya trees, each spiky cone weighing up to 10kg and containing 30-100 nuts… As you can imagine, it’s best not to stand underneath these trees when their cones are approaching maturity! Lots of enormousness. Coconut palms don’t seem so dangerous any more, huh? Australia: where even the trees are trying to kill you.
Traditionally the nuts were often ground into a flour or roasted and eaten like chestnuts – and they are fairly similar to the roasted Japanese chestnuts I’ve eaten: delicious, nutty, and a bit starchy.
My husband’s family has a property west of the Gold Coast with a few trees on their land, so I was lucky enough to get to try lots of nuts a few years back.
In modern times, urban foragers typically roast them, or parboil and pan-cook them with salt and garlic or toss them in a curry… They reminded me of wee potatoes, so I thought I’d have a go at cooking them in a garlicky pasta sauce, a bit like gnocchi.
The bunya nuts are quite smooth so they don’t hold sauce well, but all together it was still quite delicious. Starch served over starch: can’t go wrong!