Wednesday, 4 June 2008


While we are on the subject of things native to our area (after the Tumbeela visit), I thought I would check out what other foods the local Aboriginal people (who would have lived in our foothills, where I live) ate. There is a surprising variety of nuts, seeds, leaves, fruits, tubers and so on as well as animals such as lizards, birds, snakes, small mammals and large ones, like kangaroos etc etc. Specific, though, to the foothills of Adelaide are 2 types of fungi - and a lot of white people have eaten some of the wrong ones and been very sick through mis-identification and lack of knowledge of preparation. So please don't take my advice on what is edible and what is not.
Funny how things go - you know, you read a word you have never heard of before and then that word seems to be everywhere. Well, I was out getting the letters from the letter-box when I noticed something under the Acacia iteaphylla - the one whose earthy scent I adore - and I ducked in under the branches to see what it was. Holy valotta! It was just like the photos I had seen of the local fungi ! The two I mentioned usually exist together - some kind of lovely symbiotic relationship thing - and there they were! The smaller, white ones were called "goanaavapoo", by the local Aborigines and looked like the bumpy tops of golf-balls. The big, light brown ones were called "imbigidunapoo" and resembled sponges you sometimes see on the beach.
(This Tecoma capensis is not a native or anything to do with the rest of this post but it is as tough as they come and is thriving despite the number of times I have tried to kill it because it suckers everywhere.)
Anyway, In the book it said that the white ones are distantly related to the French truffle, and actually used to be used as a substitute in truffle-infused oil, by the early French settlers around the foothills of Mont d'Osmond. Some of the people who read this blog live in France and may have seen it written up recently in a French magazine 'Comestible et Exotique' - because of the connection to the recent problems with Chinese truffles in France. Have you people heard of it? The use of these in Adelaide abruptly stopped when someone tried cooking with them, because this releases an enzyme which causes a toxic reaction, and the couple died within hours. Steeped raw, in oil, however is believed to be safe. (Don't take my word for it though!)
Many years ago I dug a big hole on the other side of my driveway and asked the local lawn-mowing man to dump lawn clippings there any time he saw the big pink ribbon tied around a stake I erected there. When I see he has dumped a load of lawn clippings, I tip over a bag of raw manure. he adds clippings, I add manure and some dry leaves etc, until we have a lovely big heap. Then I take the ribbon off and leave it all to compost down for a while. About twice a year I did it all out and use it on the garden. This I have finished doing today. It is all full of worms and looks perfect. This is a dead easy way to get some compost happening, if you have a bit of space to dig a hole, near the road. You wouldn't even know it was there - at the back, right of the photo, because it doesn't take long to rot down to ground level. This area is about 3m X 3m X 1.5m deep.


chaiselongue said...

What an amazing find, Kate! I'll try and find out what's been said about the Australian truffle in France.

Ian said...

The Perigord is one of the main truffle area sof France - well everyone who lives here says it is!!!
I envy you your find, ad to think you just happened across it! Wait till I tell our local "truffe" man who goes out with his sanglier and often returns without the illusive. Use the truffe sparingly and seek professional advice.


chaiselongue said...

My researches have found that here in France la truffe australienne is mainly used as, well, brown manure!