A year ago, my family and I embarked on an overseas trip with our friends who are avid travellers and food lovers. Let’s just say when we catch up we seek out the best food and drink that captures the destination we are visiting. In Chicago, we ate deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs and drank craft beer. In Mexico, it was all about the tacos. We had fish tacos, goat tacos and beef tacos all washed down with some local beer fresh orange juice or Mezcal made into a delicious cocktail.
The trip highlighted for me the closeness of food and culture. Everybody needs to eat and drink, and what we choose to fuel our bodies and fill our stomachs with is so closely linked to where we come from. Food and drink binds people together. Linking a people to their lands, reflecting their environment, their culture, the political climate and the national psyche.
Around the world, we often see a dish used to symbolise a nation and its people. Walking around Mexico I saw a man wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, “Make Tacos Not Walls”. It made me realise the symbolic strength of the statement. One dish was being used to define the people and then go on and make a political statement.
Closer to home, in Australia, our politicians like to be portrayed as one of the people. To do this they either head to the closest sausage sizzle, for a sausage in bread (yes, we are an imaginative bunch) or to the pub for a schooner of beer. This is so ingrained in our culture that the phrase “passes the pub test” is often used to describe a politician’s behaviour, views or personality that’s palatable to most the nation.
Australia is so large we have vastly different agricultural pursuits from state to state and region to region. Our nation is made up of delicious food and drink we are so much more than snags and schooners! With a rise in food tourism around the world, now is the perfect time to redefine your destination dish. Communicating clearly through food and drink what your region does best and let’s face it what a great medium to tell your story through.
So if you’re a small producer encourage your community to get together and brainstorm. Or go it alone and create a menu item that considers the environment, culture, seasons and the production at your doorstep. Promotion of a destination dish is such an underdone concept in Australia, let's represent our region in the best possible light.