Eat this...

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

Try out the orig­i­nal Aus­tralian bush food: the hum­ble ma­cadamia nut

did you know?

Ma­cadamia nuts might be na­tive to Aus­tralia, but in 1882 the first ma­cadamia trees were planted in Hawaii, which is now the world’s big­gest pro­ducer of the nut.

Aus­tralian cui­sine can be hard to pin down. At a glance it’s a mish­mash of South-east Asian tastes and a sprin­kling of Brit clas­sics. But Aussie food runs deeper and older than the dishes it’s in­her­ited, and those who visit its east­ern coast will spy an in­gre­di­ent that has in­flu­enced lo­cal di­ets for mil­len­nia.

Long be­fore the Brits ar­rived or the first shrimp was thrown ‘on the bar­bie’, Aus­tralia’s Abo­rig­ines roamed the east­ern forests for ma­cadamia trees – in­dige­nous to the area. Its nuts were con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy and given as gifts at in­ter-tribal meets. Now, their old hunt­ing ground, the Great Di­vid­ing Range (from Mel­bourne to north­ern Queens­land), is veined with trails, wind­ing rocky plateaus and forests, so you can walk in their foot­steps.

It wasn’t un­til the late 19th cen­tury that peo­ple be­gan farm­ing macadamias here; it was then that these nuts inched their way into mod­ern Aus­tralian cook­ing. They can now be found in ev­ery­thing from su­per-food sal­ads and roast din­ners to tart fill­ings ( see right). Ma­cadamia milk (made by blend­ing nuts with wa­ter) is even mixed with cof­fee.

To this day, the or­chards of By­ron Bay are a healthy sup­ply of in­come for back­pack­ers, and a host of trails now throw in plan­ta­tion vis­its for trav­ellers, of­fer­ing walks, an in­sight into nut pro­duc­tion and even a chance to pick your own, too. But if you can’t get to Aus­tralia yet, just mix some macadamias into your next meal. Or just eat the nuts straight from the shell, like Aus­tralian Abo­rig­ines would have done mil­len­nia ago.

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