Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Australia Day chopped for some

Well the MLA's lamb ad might be in-your-face ockerism and probably appeals to a proportion of us but is it un-Australian itself?

The article in The Australian and other newspapers highlight the discomfort of vegetarians towards the campaign and elicit calls of "This is not Australian cuisine" but what are our officials backing as Australian food?

We might be surprised to learn that in Singapore, Australian food is apparently best represented by a Thai and a Mediterranean chef who will be waving the flag with organisers; Tourism Australia and Austrade making the amazing claim that only in Australia do chefs use fresh ingredients.

Where have they been living?

Sure, for some of us, Australia Day is a lamb chop and a beer but equally, we don't cook Thai or authentic Mediterranean at home. We might include olives in a salad, eat pasta every other day because it's easy or use olive oil because of the marketing effort of its health aspects (as the much healthier but poorer funded macadamia nut oil languishes in the background) but the ethnic cuisines we get in restaurants are as far from everyday food as Wildfire spiced kangaroo fillet with a riberry red wine jus.

So what are we to promote to the world?

There's little point in pushing other cuisines just because we have representative restaurants here, so why not something which is so uniquely Australian it can't be copied without a benefit back to our farmers and manufacturers? Why not define an Australian cuisine as being whatever conventional produce is available but made eclectic with a smattering of indigenous ingredients?

We have the opportunity to plan a culinary attack on the world.

The Dining Downunder team and numerous authentic Australian food chefs are pushing the boundaries as international hotels in all corners of the globe clammour for something different for their patrons. And wild ingredients are pouring out as exports to 32 countries and counting. Sure, we use Aussie beef and lamb, seafood and general produce but we really turn up the flavours with native Australian herbs, spices, seasonings, sauces, syrups, cooking methods and recipes so that our dishes have that unmistakably Antipodean taste.

We can be different, yet unchallenging. Stylish yet distinctive. It may not yet be the cooking of everyday Australia (but totally right for Australia Day celebrations).

And while we cook with fresh ingredients (like all world class chefs), we sign our offerings as our own, home-grown, uncomparable, Australian cuisine.

Vic Cherikoff
+61 2 9554 9477

And remember to ...

Practice safe cooking .... Always use (cherikoff) condiments!