This is the last day of the challenge and looking back on what I anticipated it to be like I can now say: not having salt has influenced the flavours of the food (somewhat more tasteless) but not our health at all (for Jim, Ben and I who held to that restriction anyway); the sweet potatoes were not a staple part of our diet, they were too small and bitter, but bunya nuts loomed large as an easy, tasty, filling and versatile food; school lunches were more difficult in the absence of bread and crackers and the girls not being keen on salad (Ben doesn’t eat lunch); we have lost a bit of weight but didn’t go hungry. Ben was the adjudicator as to what was ‘allowed’, he’s the hard liner – I wasn’t allowed beetroot wine (sugar from elsewhere), he allowed Nora’s eggs and roadside mangoes (whew!).
Ben has suggested 2 weeks next time, but more preparation, which led to my suggestion he does some of the cooking (which he agreed to!). We’ll think about growing things that we’ll find useful: garlic, better sweet potatoes, more potatoes, maybe a milking goat??, beans, corn…. this depends on the time of year of course, but we may need to dry and store things like corn and beans?? We had some herbs – rosemary, basil, chilli – but more would be good – a curry plant? We’ll have to think about salt and oil – hope the olive trees are productive soon!
My thoughts went more often to our indigenous people than the West Papuans as we consumed copious quantities of bunya nuts! This was thankfully a bumper year, which occurs every few years. The abundance of them in the Bunya Mountains used to be the occasion for a big indigenous festival for Aboriginal people in the South east of Queensland, and Northern N.S.W.. They would gather there for months, swapping stories, sharing new dance perfomances, arranging marriages, having mock battles. It was noted by Tom Petrie as being central to local indigenous lifestyle and was given lawful protection by the Governor of the time, whereby colonial peoples were not allowed to interfere with it. As we had our own feast we often pondered what it would have been like for them, and how sad that white invasion created an end to it – we failed to protect it and it’s our loss too – the language, the songs and dances that sprang from this land and the living on it and with it.
Perhaps it’s natural for our thoughts to turn to the peoples we displaced as we attempt to live off the land around us, as they did. Hopefully we will keep trying, and learn our lessons and experience the thoughts that emerge from the attempt. I think it also created a more cohesive household as different people contributed to the food provision – we were more than living together, we were on a mission together too! We should involve the girls more in this next time, and hopefully they’ll develop a passion for the idea that sees them through to the end!
As far as blogging goes, it’s been good to have a reflective element to our week, that we can all contribute to. So till next time….. fare well 🙂