An Australian Experience (– and not the Outback Steakhouse)

7 Sep

Though it would d be unfair to say that I have much experience in the realm of culinary art, I am proud to say I once took part in the preparation of a most exquisite meal. This August my family and I traveled to Australia. We started our trip on the Great Barrier Reef, at a resort where all our food was prepared by a number of reputable chefs. I was surprised to see that the cuisine lacked a notable Australian flare, and if anything the dishes seemed to have an oriental influence. Next we traveled to Darwin, to see and experience life on a pearl farm. We were no longer living in luxurious accommodations with restaurants and chefs to prepare our food. We were living on an extremely remote campsite that was entirely sustained by food and materials that were brought over by seaplane then boat every week. Since we were guests at the campsite my family did not dine with the other residents on the pearl farm (the workers). Here I learned the true meaning of Australian cuisine.

My sister and I had the opportunity to help prepare dinner our last night on the campsite. We cooked some local fish we caught earlier that day (Coral Trout and Barramundi—an Australian seafood favorite), as well as beer battered fries (essentially an Australian twist on the “French fry”), and kangaroo for main course. We prepared the kangaroo just as we would prepare a flank steak, and seasoned it similarly. We saved the best for last: oyster meat. Like kangaroo, oyster meat is not commonly consumed or found in America so the cook on the campsite helped us prepare it. The oyster meat came from oyster shells that we brought back from the pearl farms out at sea, and it is not to be confused with the oyster that is typically eaten from these types of shells, it is actually the muscle around it that aids the shell in functioning. This meat has a completely different consistency and is much denser, and not slimy. The cook at the pearl farm deep-fried the oyster meat for us, just like American chicken nuggets or fish and chips she said. The table was set and the meal was finally ready, and it was surely the most memorable and delicious meal I have ever prepared and enjoyed. That night I ate kangaroo, an animal I have watched from afar in a zoo, but in that region of Australia kangaroos are nearly as common as cattle in the United States, so they are consumed.  This meal demonstrated several components of organic, local, and traditional Australian food and was unlike any previous dining experience I’ve had.

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