Lemon Myrtle IS loved

I would like to blow away the myth perpetuated by a few food critics that Australians are not enthused about their home grown flavours, commonly referred to as bushfood or bush tucker.

I believe it to be much more rewarding if we talk about the specific nuts, fruits herbs and spices derived from Australian native plants rather than the vague legacies and terminologies of TV survival shows.

However the critics are right to claim that these herbs and spices like lemon myrtle do not deserve any special treatment just because they are native. But should these herbs and spices have taste qualities which are unique, exciting, evocative and acceptable to the palate then this is a very different culinary proposition.

Here at Tumbeela through our tour groups we have introduced hundreds of Australians to a range of native plant foods including our flagship product Lemon Myrtle.  We are constantly amazed to find that visitors in 2013 show no greater knowledge of native plant foods than did visitors back in 2000, despite native products being in the market place for a decade or so.

It dawned on me that perhaps  the critics are right in claiming that Australians hold little enthusiasm for native flavours—but not for the reasons they imply.  The fact is most Australians have never eaten, tasted or seen food products derived from native plants.

So if there is a lack of enthusiasm for native flavours it is not because they have failed the public taste test but because they have never been tried.

At Tumbeela   our visitors taste and smell lemon and aniseed myrtle, mountain pepper and a range of other native flavours and, almost to a person, experience these flavours for the first time.

While not all flavours are loved by all of the people some are more loved than others—“but I’ll be buggered” is the response we hear the loudest.  There is no lack of enthusiasm

I think the critics have got it wrong.

The Old Becomes the New

When I was a young man and had never been kissed I hated coriander. And I hated rice too. And, had lemon myrtle been around I would have hated  that as well. And I would have hated mountain pepper the most. 

But now I’m a little older, a fair bit older, the worm has turned.  Some old prejudices have passed away, I’ve had my first kiss, coriander is looking pretty good , rice is  up front  and centre and  I continually submit to the seductive nuances of  lemon myrtle .     

Childhood tastes no longer haunt my palate for the ghosts of soggy cabbage, blancmange, rice pudding and assorted school yard meals are now gone. Salt, pepper and chips with everything is no longer the order of the day.

A coming of age you might say but it is not a journey I have taken alone. So many of us have similar     culinary roots but we have reached different destinations at different times.   We have literally had hundreds of people visit Tumbeela over the last 10 or so years but so few come with any awareness of the edible aromatic herbs and spices , nuts and berries growing in the Australian bush.

 But as we learn about them, we learn to love them—- but don’t you think it’s a tad ironic that we learnt to love coriander, chilli, and fermented fish sauce first?