Colonial Appetites, Historical Tales and the Contemporary Consumption of Australian Native Foods
In this article, I critique the historical narratives surrounding the consumption of Australian native foods by European settlers. I argue that culinary historians and other commentators present the contemporary consumption of native foods as a means of rejecting the colonial attitudes of the past. In this narrative, early settlers lacked appreciation for Australian native foods and, by extension, Indigenous Australian culture and knowledge. Based on this depiction of colonial history, the current interest in native foods becomes symbolic of a wider revaluing of Australia’s previously denigrated indigenous flora and fauna and Indigenous people. However, as I relate, some early European settlers and their descendants ate a wide variety of native Australian foods. These historical episodes challenge the conventional narrative of Australian culinary history and, in particular, the idea that contemporary consumption constitutes a novel break from past culinary practices. Moreover, as I demonstrate, settler interest in native foods was often consistent with the attitudes that justified and underwrote colonisation. By drawing attention to the role that native foods played in the colonial project, I complicate the idea that recognition of these foods is sufficient to address this history.