Bruce Pascoe, author of Dark Emu introduces making bread with native grasses
Wonderful day. We were up at Lake Mungo. We were … that Japanese guy was working with the Lacji Latj, Mutti Mutti, and Barkindji people, the women of that group in particular, and they had got their kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews, to work with this Japanese fellow to harvest Pannicum decompositum. They harvested it by hand.
We’re grinding it into flour here.
The grain, that grain, was growing on the sand dunes of Lake Mungo in pure sand with only the available moisture that the continent can provide. We made that into flour. The kids and the Japanese guy designed these solar ovens.
This is the precious sand of Lake Mungo here. If you’ve never been there, you’ve got to go. That’s an Australian duty. The kids were all excited. Too much red cordial, probably. Everyone, when these loaves came out of the oven, everyone was bawling. It was such a big day in Australian history. It’s unrecorded at the moment, but it was a huge day in Australian history. Using an available Australian grain, gluten free, grows in sand, doesn’t need any more water than the continent provides, and here we are with loaves of bread. Now, 40% of that bread is white McAlpine flour, the rest of it is Pannicum decompositum. It’s still risen. It’s still beautiful, and you could smell it from a hundred meters away. It’s a beautiful food. This is real health food.
We can’t produce enough of it at the moment to even give one restaurant enough because we’re experimenting with cooking it ourselves. Our houses smell of this grain and kangaroo grass, which is even more aromatic. We’re harvesting this summer down at Mallacoota, up at Cooma, various other places where we’ve got sites where we can harvest kangaroo grass and Panicum decompositum.
I was in Adelaide yesterday talking about this stuff and some of the grass scientists come up to me and they were scoffing about the kangaroo grass. They said, “It’s got such a small seed, so hard to extract from the plant. Why are you bothering?” Well, we’re bothering because it grows everywhere. The old people weren’t daunted by it. They had a way of releasing the grain. They had a way of turning it into flour. We have to find that way. These are people who were earth scientists and they worked it out. We have to find the solution to it and not scoff at the old science.