Before we get into our Cultured Cuisine series it’s time to let you in on a little secret. I am a wanna be wog. Seriously. In the most esteemed use of this term for ethnic migrants I am there all the way. And that makes me a better dietitian and nutrition blogger…let me explain.
Traditional diets do it better
Well I may not embrace fluffy dice hanging from the rear vision mirror. And you can leave your doof doof car stereos in the garage. But oh the cuisine and culture of traditional Italy, Greece and Mediterranean countries. Let me bypass foodie heaven and be reincarnated Tuscan. But it doesn’t stop there. My Asian longings are super strong and the global list goes on. I embrace my Anglo-Aussie heritage and love to make a twist on traditional fare…but everything else just seems…well…exotic by comparison. So what’s this got to do with a nutrition blog? EVERYTHING. There is too much to learn about the health properties of traditional diets and not nearly enough research time or dollars. But in this series we are going to explore as many secrets as we can. From the French paradox to the Okinawan Odyssey and a stopover in Crete to study the centenarians along on the way. I will tell you about my world travels, international cooking schools and chicken feet eating adventures. But I really don’t need to leave home. You see with residents from 140 nations living side by side in Melbourne I have plenty of research at my fingertips. Here’s just a taste of what’s in store from my experiences growing up multicultural. Even if you live on the other side of the world, I will show you how you too can learn about exotics hiding in your very own global community. And tap into tradition.
Growing up multicultural
It’s all Greek to me
It’s often quoted that Melbourne has one of the largest population of Greeks outside Athens. And if you read my class roll at primary school you wouldn’t argue. Names like Maria Voukalatis, Chris Christopolous and Angela Dardimardis rolled off my tongue as easy as spanokopita (spinach feta pie), tzatiki (cucumber yogurt dip) and dolmades (rice stuffed vine leaves). While my school friends were somewhat embarrassed by their packed lunch of salami and crusty bread or leftover moussaka (eggplant like lasagna)…I was intrigued. Greek dads and grandpas walked kids slowly to school jingling worry beads (when they wern’t hosing down the concrete). The women just COOKED. And not one child went to bed before 9pm…even on a school night. I look forward to sharing with you some very interesting research on Australian Greek migrants and the health outcomes of sticking with tradition.
Nordic know how
Next was my Scandinavian phase aged 6. Spurred on by reading Pippi Longstocking and having and a very stylish Swedish mum of a school friend. Oh and did I mention that little known band ABBA (luckily Angela Dardimardis had long black Grecian hair to play Frida on our picnic table concerts). After visiting the Swedish Church one very magical Christmas I dreamed of crowns of candles, white gowns and spiced ginger biscuits. Today’s rub off? Too long in the Ikea foodstore. And a desire to bring you insights into Nordic cuisine and the traditional diet promotion work by renowned chef, Rene Redzepi from Noma in Copenhagen.
With South-East Asia at our doorstep and Asian immigrants from all over the globe is it any wonder my kitchen garden includes a kaffir lime tree and Thai chili? And it wouldn’t be Melbourne if a pop to the local market didn’t include a pop in to see the resident Chinese masseuse or acupuncturist, whenever your ying is out of step with your yang. Just before you down a steaming hot bowl of Vietnamese Pho noodles that is.
Beat of the African drum
Due to horrific civil war and famine, Melbourne also has a array of African immigrants (many refugees) from Sudan, Ethiopia and other nations. Again they have added to our rich cultural diversity. Get set for a lesson in injera (bread) making from iron-rich teff grain.
The first Australians
Finally but importantly I want to acknowledge the richness of our own indigenous communities in this section. We are only scraping the surface of historical, hunter-gatherer diets around the globe and the power of our very own Aussie bush foods. To the original inhabitants of Melbourne, the people of the Kulin nation who were displaced in the 1830’s when whiteman arrived, I say sorry. The world would be a greener, cleaner place if we all appreciated our sacred soil like you. I’ll be sharing some of the admiral work being carried about by my colleague Dietitians in the Top End and ‘outback’ of Australia.