Originally, I wasn’t in favor of eating such an adorable national symbol. I mean, I was brought up to not eat cute foreign animals like koalas and kangaroos. It just didn’t seem right. But I keep seeing kangaroo meat in grocery stores, and, more importantly from my own perspective, I keep seeing them as road kill- struck by cars and laying dead at the side of the road. This made me realize that they’re basically the equivalent of deer in the US Midwest. They’re not rare or endangered, they’re not protected, and they’re certainly not sacred. And they cause a lot of car accidents! So, that brought them down from cute national icon level to common animal level. And from there, I guess it’s only a short leap to “potential food”. So, keeping in mind that Benjamin Franklin originally suggested the turkey as America’s national symbol (and we certainly don’t hesitate to eat them!), I decided it would be okay for me to try kangaroo meat this one time. You can see Robyn cooking the kangaroo meat on the barbie (above left)- next to the tasty onions and sausages.
This country is a bird-lover’s paradise. We were just driving down the road the other day, when we heard the usual rough squawks of cockatoos nearby. But we heard a few more than usual, and they seemed really close. Sure enough, we turned the corner, and came across a whole gathering of them! (I guess a group of parrots is called a pandemonium, but I can’t find a collective noun specifically for cockatoos.) Here’s what we saw (please excuse the shaky camerawork… it was done from the car window!)
I raved about how green Sydney is, but Canberra is positively rural! The city center itself is not, but they carefully planned it so that the area would feel open and a part of the countryside. Despite being the country’s capital, the emphasis is refreshingly focused on the land- reminding you of the country itself. And guess who helped plan it? An architect couple from Chicago, of course! It’s an excellent approach, though I will say that coming from life in larger cities, the landscape here actually feels a little disconcertingly open to me. But beautiful!
This first photo was taken outside of the Gallagher Winery in Canberra, where we stopped to do a tasting as part of the weekend’s wine harvest festival. I liked the Shaw Vineyard (below) even better; they had a great sweet white wine made from Semillon grapes.
But this stuff was a nice surprise. Despite the description and the unusual name, damper is very tasty and was an enjoyable new thing to try. Oh! I’ve also eaten “turkish bread” a few times already here. Fantastic stuff! It’s like an overgrown English muffin.
Chunky pumpkin? Whaaa? No, really- it was good. Plus, “pumpkin” in Oz just means squash. So this was made out of butternut or some other variety. If it makes a good soup, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t turn it into a delicious dip, as well.
Mmmm… Lamingtons. There’s not much to them. These things are just a bit of sponge cake covered with a thin layer of chocolate and a thin layer of coconut, but I had a nice fresh moist one the other day, and it was a real treat. Well done, Australia!
Full disclosure- I haven’t tried the dip on the right yet, but I’m looking forward to it and I know it will be good. I’ve found a lot of tasty cream cheese-based dips here, like the salmon one on the left, and a crab and prawn one that I’m eating right now. I also spotted a sweet corn and red bell pepper dip that looks great. So many new things to try! Stay tuned…
First, let’s look at some of this odd food. Apparently, aboriginals in the outback actually eat witchetty grubs.
Remember those cute photos I posted of the kangaroos? This is the first type of kangaroo I saw here. Also available: Kanga Bangas. Yes- bangers made out of kangaroo.
But there’s far more good stuff here than weird stuff. In fact, not only have I found nothing questionable in my counsins’ cupboards, (except that vegemite) I think I’ve wanted to try eating every other unique/new-to-me food I’ve found here. Now that foodie adventure could fill a few new posts already…
We went to a local park in Canberra, and even though I have much more to post about Sydney, I just had to cut in and show you these amazing kangaroos! They let us get fairly close, which was amazing. It’s so interesting to see animals in the wild that you’re conditioned to think of as zoo animals.
With the exception of the one reclining kangaroo, the others were all just standing around at dusk, hanging out. There were some joeys with their mothers, and as we walked towards them, they usually moved away a bit, so I just stood still and took photos after I got close enough. I’m so used to seeing videos/animation of kangaroos hopping on those large back legs that it was a little surprising to see them move forward by putting weight on those little front legs like any other 4-legged animal would.
They were silent, though, so I don’t know what sounds they make to communicate with each other. That’s one to google. But I like to imagine that they’re gossiping to each other in cockney accents, while scratching their bellies and chewing grass… and maybe burping.