How ancient cuisine is helping us taste the south anew

As a child, Menang elder Vernice Gillies remembers eating yonga (Noongar for kangaroo) many ways. Sliced and fried in a pan with onions, say, or as roo-tail stew.

One way our national emblem didn’t appear on the family’s dinner table, however, was as blushing steaks of tender fillet (slowly poached sous vide in a water bath, then quickly seared until the crust is charred and smoky); perhaps teamed with a puree of native macadamias, then showered with crunchy leaves of saltbush – a native plant with slender blue-grey leaves that, once introduced to the business end of a deep fryer, morph into nature’s own gourmet crisps.

Students at Djinda Ngardak working alongside chefs from Fervor.

Students at Djinda Ngardak working alongside chefs from Fervor. Credit: Jenny Feast Photography

Not many diners from any culinary tradition have eaten roo this way, unless of course they’ve been fortunate enough to attend a dinner hosted by Fervor, a native food pop-up that roams the state serving meals celebrating First Nations ingredients and culture.

Meals like last year’s inaugural Djeran Celebration lunch in Albany, for the 2023 Taste Great Southern Festival. A celebration of the region’s Menang, Koreng and Pibelman (also spelled Bibbulmun, as in the Bibbulmun Track) peoples, the event saw team Fervor reimagine native and local ingredients using modern techniques that chef and founder Paul Iskov picked up during a 20-year career including time at world-renowned restaurants such as Copenhagen’s Noma and Mexican powerhouse Pujol.

“What Fervor does is incredible and adds another dimension to food that we grew up eating,” says Menang elder Vernice Gillies about the contemporary way Iskov and his team reframe some of the planet’s oldest ingredients.

Five years ago, Gillies established Kurrah Mia, an indigenous tour and retail business promoting local Menang culture. “You can still taste the authentic in the dish, but there’s this magic in it.”

Like many regions in Western Australia, Menang country around Kinjarling (Albany) is home to many unique ingredients, not least the bloodroot that Menang translates to. A native bulb related to the kangaroo paw, bloodroot has a powerful, spicy taste. Traditionally it was used to improve blood circulation, but in cooking is a native analogue for chilli, and team Fervor turns this seasonal ingredient into a vibrant oil that lends punch to ingredients. And like the coastal succulent samphire, the native cherry known as djuk and the other wild ingredients of the region, menang was gathered in small amounts to ensure it could be enjoyed by future generations.

“It’s not just about the ingredients and what they taste like, but also how we utilise them,” says Larry Blight, Vernice Gillies’ son and another partner of the Kurrah Mia business, who has hosted regular tours of the ancient fish traps in Oyster Harbour as part of Taste Great Southern.

“For thousands and thousands of years, sustainable wisdom has been a big part of Menang cultural practices.”

Also Read More: World News | Entertainment News | Celebrity News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Ariana Grande and Ethan Slater ‘Can’t Wait to Live Together’ Following Respective Divorces

The ink isn’t even dry on her divorce papers, but Ariana Grande…

Man Accidentally Causes ‘War’ between His Parents Brother’s Bride’s Family with Text on Her Wedding Day

After his brother told him he couldn’t come to his wedding because…

Kelly Osbourne Is a ‘Lavender Queen’ as She Shows Longer Hairstyle

Kelly Osbourne debuts a stunning longer hairstyle with beautiful lavender locks and…

Emily Rudd Has One Confirmed Boyfriend Justin Blau — He Is a Musician Founded His Own Company

American actress Emily Rudd’s boyfriend, Justin Blau, dropped out of college to…