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jimgoad.net :: where are all the grubs at?
Where Are all the Grubs At?
My Vain Search for ABORIGINAL Food in Australia
Australia's original national dish.
Within 24 hours of landing in Australia, I heard the word “multicultural” more times than I’d cumulatively heard it in my entire life. This is hilarious to me, since nineteen out of twenty o’ you melanoma-cases-in-waiting are of bone-white Euro ancestry. Why is it that the whitest places are always the ones most hell-bent on multiculturalism? In truly multicultural cities such as Chicago or LA, you don’t hear whitey spouting off about such things nearly as often, mainly because many whites silently go about their business wondering whether the gloriously sunshiny idea of multiculturalism might possibly have been a big, big mistake.
Still, whatever its deficiencies when it comes to a multiplicity of cultures, Australia offered the most widely multicultural cuisine of any place I’ve ever been. Chapel Street in South Yarra was like a culinary United Nations. In less than a week, I gorged on Nepalese curried crab, Japanese sushi, Tasmanian yogurt, Chinese pears, and some weird Turkish jellied candy.
Oz’s national cuisine was a touch spottier. The musk sticks and Lamingtons were tasty enough, but after having Men At Work’s “Down Under” drilled into my head a gazillion times twenty years ago, I couldn’t help but try some Vegemite, and I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself. I realize I may be starting an international incident by criticizing your beloved National Paste—every Aussie I spoke to defended it as if it was their birth mother—but I’d reckon that the taste of dead convicts’ feet is preferable to that vile yeasty sludge. It was suggested that perhaps I smeared too much onto my snack crackers and that I should temper it with a dab of butter. True enough, the less Vegemite I spread onto the cracker, the better it tasted. Less and less…better and better…until the absolute best—no Vegemite whatsoever!
Australia's new national dish.
Aboriginal food, despite all the barking about multiculturalism, seemed nonexistent. After repeated queries, the best I could surmise about the indigenous diet was that it consisted almost entirely of “Witchetty grubs,” thumb-sized white maggots said to be high in protein. I even heard that they were reputedly “yummy”—if, of course, you can somehow get around the idea of stuffing a giant white maggot inside your mouth.
With help from some gracious locals, it was determined that Melbourne, despite its thousands of restaurants, hosted only ONE place that specialized in the food of those Australians who arrived roughly 39,800 years before everyone else. Said eatery offered grilled wallaby, and—I’m not sure—probably broiled wombat’s feet or something. The elusive Witchetty grubs had to be special-ordered.
As my rotten luck would have it, though, the place was closed for Christmas, even though at the time of our inquiry, it was nearly three weeks after our Lord Jesus Christ’s birthday. Oh, I see, Mr. Aborigine—you hate the white man unless you can use one of his holidays as an excuse to take a three-week vacation.
Can’t say I blame you, though. I’d hate the white man, too, if he’d raped my land, committed near-genocide on my people, and then had the nerve to scream about “multiculturalism” while failing to honor the cuisine of the Original Aussies. Plus, white Australians eat Vegemite, which is reason enough to hate them.