Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bush Tucker Woman

I've eaten some strange things in my life.

I've had "crad ovaries" and sea cucumber in China, and sweetbreads (calves' testicles) in Germany. In Japan, I ate turtle innards, chicken-butt skewers, and a bizarre dish composed of large, meltingly sweet lumps of beef fat mixed into a broth. In the Middle East, I never got to eat the sheeps' eye I was promised, but I managed to be given a dish made of curdled sheep-milk that was just about as revolting. And nothing comes close to what My One True Love ate in Kyoto - a single oyster that was bigger than his head.

Now, I've got a few new things to add to the list.

1. Freshly-killed goanna. Seen here being held by Chase Bedford (on the left) and Reuben Bedford (on the right), these two enormous goannas were sniffed out by their faithful goanna dog Lucky, a big old animal with three good legs and a nose as sharp as a diamond.

The best way to train a dog to find goanna is to burst a goanna's bladder and squirt a bit of the urine up the dog's nose - that way, the dog gets the very essence (as it were) of the animal's scent.

When properly trained, a goanna dog will even go into a burrow and drag the reptile out, or follow it into water to drown it. In Lucky's case, he will corner the animal until his owner arrives, who then shoots it in the head. I admire that efficiency!

A good way to cook goanna is in a bush oven.

Next time you have yourself a goanna, dig a hole in the ground and burn a fire down until the very hottest white coals are left. Put the gutted goanna into the hole, and then cover it with coals and a sheet of corrogated iron for a lid.

Your goanna will emerge from the oven succulent and sweet. Cut off a piece and peel back the hardened, leathery, scaly skin. The meat will look and taste remarkably like chicken, with a firmer, chewier texture.

(And it's true, if a goanna is chasing you run like hell, because if you stop they will think you are a tree and run UP you instead!)

2. Kangaroo. This is a different kettle of kangaroo, you could say, to the steaks you can buy in the supermarket that are bled, dressed and vacuum-packed in their cryovac bags Here's Luke Bedford preparing it for us..

This kangaroo comes with its skin still on, and when you're handed your piece of the tail you peel it like a banana, which isn't easy.

After that's done you scrape aside the glistening, gleaming layer of fat - it looks like little gel-filled bubbles wrapped around the flesh - and the dark, sweet meat is underneath.

The tail is the best bit - though roasted ribs are a very close second -and it has a stronger, gamier flavour than the steaks I've eaten before. Kind of the same, but different. More .....um ....wild.

3. Bush coconut. This one was really cool! All the kids were eating them and then they showed us how to do it.

You take your bush coconut and smash it in half with a sharp rock. Inside is a yellow grub that has burrowed into the fruit, surrounded by thousands of tiny pink larvae. You scoop out the grub and swallow it down - it provides an excellent source of fluid and nutrition if you're thirsty, and then you use your fingers to grab the larvae and eat them as well.

It's true that in the bush you will never go hungry - as long as you know where to look. For my part, I'd make sure I had a gun and a dog called Lucky as well.

1 comment:

Jennie said...

Your bush coconut has thoroughly grossed me out. Closest I've come is witchetty grub soup. And I've just rubbed my eye with a finger that had chilli sauce on it - yeow!