Eating of Country

This old lady would walk with me, pointing out foods in the landscape… she never talked, she just pointed and waited for me to go and pick some of the plants. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable, I mean I didn’t feel confident in what part of the plant to take because she never told me, she just pointed.

After a few of these walks together, I took my time and imagined the relationship that the old lady, this elder had with the plants already. I imagined the footprints and relationship that was already ahead of me, all the understandings that had been cultivated over time and I began to see. I could literally feel where to break the plant, how much to take of it, and from where. I learned how to approach the plant so that it could offer itself up as opposed to me hacking into it for my own wants and needs.

When I finally arrived at this, it was then, and only then, that the Elder began to share more with me and she used words to do so. She began to show me modern ways of creating culinary delights infused with traditional foundations and bringing the worlds and timelines together. She was rather famous for this herself, I wasn’t aware of it at the time, just knew I loved spending time with her and walking country. It was her homeland and I was the visitor, so I felt a great sense of gratitude in my heart for the opportunity and the fact that she looked for me to spend time with her too.

All in all, there wasn’t much talk, to be honest, much gathering, much walking, much sensing yet not much talk. In this way, for me, each moment was rich with content and the experience landed deep. The learning was true.

As I ate of the country, I also connected with the stories of the land. I would eat one food at a time, often leaving a leaf in my mouth for an hour or so to absorb the information it carries. If I ate of a fruit, the seed would be kept in my mouth almost all day. The transference occurs while not looking for it.

To simply gobbling something up in an instant never really counts for much other than filling the belly and leading you to curl up like a big old carpet snake and dream it all away!

In the landscape I’m living in at present, Warrigal Greens sing and grow here. It reminds me of the Elder as she showed me an awesome pesto to make, so I made one today with a few little twists of my own including other foods growing here also.

So here we have it, a delicious mostly native pesto from wild foods growing on the Island!

Warrigal Greens/wild spinach, Nasturtiums, Macadamia nuts, lemon myrtle with some Ozzie Olive oil and Italian parmesan cheese, and a little sea salt!

Don’t ask me how much of everything because it’s pretty much a bit of this and some of that, those are my measurements! Most important is to feel good when you’re making it and be grateful that you can!

Make sure you blanch the Warrigal greens, it makes them lovely and soft and they give you what you need how you’re meant to have it, be sure to squeeze out the excess liquid so your pesto doesn’t become too moist.

Have fun!

I made a Kangaroo spaghetti bolognese and had a large serving of the pesto to celebrate the dish!!

What foods are growing wild near you? And what do you like preparing with it? Feel welcome to share here.


  • By Rachel Shields
  • Knowing In Nature 2017 (c)


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