In more than 230 years of occupation, European Australians turned their backs on the vast majority of foods the country’s Indigenous people have eaten for more than 50,000 years. We have ignored their sage and intricate management of the environment and overlaid an alien system of agriculture, leading to a process of ecological imbalance.
We lived on and not in this continent. We did not put down roots and did not see, as American food historian Waverley Root asserted, that ‘food is a function of the soul, for which reason every country has a food naturally fit for it’. Every country, that is, except Australia.
Food is more than nourishment. Food is culture, food shapes culture, food binds us together and forces us apart. Is the rejection of our native foods, ‘food racism’? Accepting the food of this land, which we are only just beginning to do after almost 230 years will, I believe, contribute towards what I call culinary reconciliation.