Rebecca Sullivan of Granny Skills is used to championing traditional skills of our elders but her latest venture Warndu promotes a different kind of tradition, one that's been 60,000 years in the making.
'Warndu', meaning 'good' in the Adnyamathanha language, is a wellbeing brand on a mission to reconciliate through food and education. Along with her husband Damien Coulthard, the pair are bringing Australian native ingredients to the fore through their teas, brews, vinegars and oils to try and promote the use of outback ingredients in everyday cooking (think roo broth, saltbush infused oil and tea made with ants and river mint). They want people to see the good that comes from eating native ingredients and the good that comes from supporting the communities of which they're sourced.
This week we sat down with Rebecca to talk Warndu, the growing popularity of native Australian ingredients and why they need to be our future food.
What inspired you and your husband Damien to create Warndu?
My granny skills work, work in the local food movement and Damien’s desire to protect his Aboriginal elders knowledge.
Where do you source these native ingredients from?
All over Australia - we have worked extremely hard building relationships with growers, producers and harvesters. We are still very new in the industry and have a long way to go.
Who or what do you attribute the rising popularity of native ingredients to?
A very passionate, determined small group of people in the industry that have had more trials and tribulations than you can imagine. They just keep pushing hoping that finally Australians will wake up and see the superfoods that exist in their own backyards.
Why do you think Australians haven’t fully embraced native ingredients in their diet?
Ignorance and embarrassment. We have been afraid to ask questions and afraid to go out and ask why are we not eating these foods, what are these foods, what did Aboriginal people eat for the past 60,000 years? We are not taught enough about Aboriginal history so it makes us all feel like we're in this awkward situation where no one wants to offend so no one asks.
Do you think an ‘Australian cuisine’ exists and if so, what is it?
I think many adaptions of Australian cuisines exist, but if we have not embraced our own local produce then can we call it Australian cuisine?
What’s one ingredient you couldn’t live without?
Kakadu Plum - it is the highest source of Vitamin C on the planet and anytime I am feeling like I may get sick I take it and voila, I don’t get sick. It is magical and should replace many a chemicals in our medicine cabinets.
Do you have a favourite recipe that incorporates this ingredient, or any other native ingredients?
I love to make bone broth using chicken carcasses and then add onion, garlic, carrot and celery as normal but my bouquet garni consists of native pepper, lemon and anise myrtle leaves as well as a handful of fresh saltbush and some native thyme.
Where can we find these ingredients if we want to cook with them day to day?
There are now many places including Something Wild in the Central Market in Adelaide that will post them to you from many different suppliers.
What role do you think native Australian ingredients will play in the future of food?
They are our future food. If we have any intention of repairing our soils, our diets and our relationships with Aboriginal people then they need to be our future food.
Strawberry Gum Pavlova.
9 free-range egg whites
3 tsp boiling water
300g caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
2–3 tsp strawberry gum powder
60g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp wattleseed extract
100g wild strawberries, riberries or muntries
Use a large bowl (about 20–25cm): turn it upside down on baking paper and trace its outline with a pencil. Place paper on baking tray.
Next, make the meringue. Place all of the ingredients into your mixing bowl and combine with the whisk attachment. Beat on high (9–10) for 10 minutes.
Pile the meringue into the circle on your baking paper and use a spatula to spread evenly to the edges. You can use an upward motion with a palette knife to decorate the edges and try to get a smooth top, which makes piling the cream easier (after the pav is baked). Rough and rustic is also fine.
Preheat the oven to 100°C. Bake for 1½ hours. Turn the tray halfway through. When cooked, turn off the oven and let pavlova crust cool completely in the oven before removing. If not serving within a few hours, wrap in cling wrap or store in an airtight container for up to three days.
Whip the cream with the icing sugar and wattleseed. Pile on the pavlova and decorate with the berries and flowers.