mofo: local

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17) Make (or eat) a traditional local dish.

I struggled with overthinking this prompt. I can’t hear the words ‘traditional’ or ‘local’ without immediately thinking of the First Nations People who occupied this territory for thousands of years where as the European (my heritage) settlement is only a hundred some odd years old. I asked a few members from the band what they considered traditional/local and other than veganizing deer, moose or salmon – I could have dehydrated and smoked watermelon I guess…. damn that would have been good! foraged foods like soapberries and spring beauties have already been harvested. If I knew my wild mushrooms better I could have hunted those out. Across the board everyone suggested bannock. First People used nuts, tubers and berries to produce a dough that could be baked in a clay oven, roasted on a stick over a fire -I’ve had it like this, it’s amazing!-, or even rolled in sand and cooked under a bed of hot stones, the sand brushes off once it’s firm.

European settlement and fur trading brought flour, sugar and oil/butter into their diet which also brought the method of deep frying or pan frying the dough, now common ways to cook bannock. The first settler to this area was Irish and set up cattle ranching and planted fruit trees. This region is well known for its peaches, apples, pears, plums, apricots and now wine, lots and lots of wine.

IMG_6971With all this in mind I made a simple dough pan fried on cast iron. One member of the band said he regularly makes ‘Indian pizza or tacos’ with bannock and vegetables except he also adds game meat to it. Thinking of a gamy taste I opened my pantry and pulled out a jar of mom’s pickled green walnuts. She traditionally serves it with lamb.

IMG_6967She’s Australian and her father and his father were butchers in Williamstown. When I was eighteen years old and vegan, visiting my grandparents in Australia, my Nana accepted I wouldn’t eat dairy or eggs/animal flesh but specifically could not understand why I wouldn’t eat lamb. She even tried sneaking it in on me.

I had bannock and woodsy tasting, pickled walnuts. I had a Macintosh apple which would have been one of the varieties planted upon settlement. I needed something creamy to balance this out and picnics are pretty traditional around here. I made the Garden Herb Spread from Isa’s Vegan Brunch but instead of the herbs she suggests I used fresh sage and rosemary which worked with the apple and walnut. A mash up of traditions but I liked it.

The knife was made by my blacksmith friend Mick. He used the metal from an old industrial band saw blade, full tang with a sharp butt end he describes as ‘the window breaker’. If I found a dog sealed up in a hot car, I’d use it. The wood comes from a Macintosh tree. It was curious cutting an apple with the handle of its own family. It felt a bit callous as I picnicked this tradition-ish, local meal.

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17 comments
    • lysette said:

      Thanks, that’s nice of you to say. I’m trying to keep my MoFo posts short. This prompt triggered so many tangents, if I had followed them I would have never got it done :/

      • Yep, I totally understand that. I’m the same.

        I love what you did with everything here, though. Lovely.

  1. Kelly said:

    Such a simple meal, and it looks delicious. I love that knife, too. So neat that it’s handmade.

    • lysette said:

      Strange mix that I would have never come up with otherwise -so thanks MoFo ;)The knife is sharp as, Mick doesn’t mess around. I hope I never have to use the butt end of it!

      • Kelly said:

        But if you did rescue a hot-car-dog with it, it would be SO badass.

  2. A history lesson that ends in an interesting meal. That’s mind kind of thing. Despite (or because of) living near a pickled walnut factory, I’ve never put one of them in my face. I think perhaps It’s time I changed that.

    • lysette said:

      Love your ‘They Live’ gravatar!

  3. XD My Grandma was like Meat okay, dairy okay, wait no jello?! That’s too much!

    I’ve never heard of pickled green walnuts before. What do they taste like?

    • lysette said:

      Funny where people -family especially- get their sticking points.

      Pickled walnuts are intense, vinegary, woodsy, earthy, like eating wet dirt soft and mushy. I love them, though having grown up on them, my parents have a massive walnut tree, they might be an acquired taste. You pickle them in the late spring before the inner shell develops.

  4. Caroline said:

    Really interesting post. I love how you pulled all those strands together to make your meal.

    • lysette said:

      🙂 thanks Caroline. I am a bit like a spider in the kitchen.

  5. Really good stuff. Every time you talk about where you live and your friends I think it all sounds so awesome– I’d love to have a blacksmith friend to make me a knife that looks like what my grandfathers had. I’ve heard Williamstown is a little more vegan friendly these days so I want to go so I can write a blog post on it. It’s not far from me, just over twenty minutes by car and we go in the warmer weather and walk along the pier.

    • lysette said:

      Hang around heavy horses and you’ll meet a lot of blacksmiths.I’ve been so excited to see Williamstown through your lens. Nana lives on the Strand near the pier, so many pictures on my sibling and I sitting on that canon. Twenty minutes by car is still a ways. Before the bridge was built Nana laughs over a memory of going to dances in Melbourne and meeting young men who would offer to see her and her friends home and when they said ‘Thank you, we live in Williamstown.’ the boys would disappear because it was so far away!

  6. Just looked up ‘Bannock’, a simple bread. Never heard of it before. Thought the Pickled Walnuts were Olives. they are new to me as well.

    • lysette said:

      Both are delicious! What kind of nuts grow in the VI’s?

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