Saturday, February 09, 2008

Desert Files - Day 3

I've been thinking a bit today about Jesus being tempted to turn stones into bread, and about how we produce our food.
This morning me and Ali and Nigel drove out to the retreat centre at Gembrook to do some work. On the way we stopped at a couple of places to try and find some food for our lunch.
First we stopped at Menzies Creek, to try and get some cumbungi (spelling?). Cumbungi is a kind of bullrush, and the local indigenous people used to eat its roots. We did manage to find some, but the creek was pretty polluted, and the flesh of the roots smelled like the water they were growing in.

When we stopped at Avonsleigh, however, we did manage to find some good food, quite close to the road.

You can actually eat the young, curled-up fronds of the tree fern, and they taste a lot like walnuts. (You can eat young bracken fronds too.)

When we got to the retreat centre we broke up the fern fronds, and put them in a soup, with potatoes, lamb and butter.

I don't normally eat lamb, mainly because of the impact that sheep have on the land. When the European settlers first started grazing sheep in Victoria, the sheep wiped out a lot of the myrnong (indigenous daisy yam) which was a staple food of the local people. Perhaps if we didn't have have sheep we could have had myrnong root in the soup instead of potatoes, which originate in the Americas? Maybe the creek where the cumbungi was growing wouldn't be polluted either?
Anyway, we're going to try and find somewhere where there's healthy cumbungi, and where there's myrnong. Ali wants to try growing his own too.

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