Pamela’s eating Creamed Corn and Charcoaled Lizards

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Instalments one , two, three and four.

I’m in lovely Warakurna community at the moment, located at the base of the Rawlinson Ranges in Western Australia. The remote Giles weather station, located just up the road, was built in 1956 and was the first permanent colonial occupation of the area for hundreds of kilometres in any direction. Many older people living at Warakurna now were children at the time, their families living independent existences centred around the myriad of rock holes and hunting grounds scattered throughout the ranges.

By virtue of its tenure as a piece of Western Australian Aboriginal reserve excised by the Commonwealth government fifty years ago, the weather station is the only place in the entire Ngaanyatjarra Lands where alcohol can legally be consumed, and officially only by the station’s six employees. Have I considered dropping into the weather station to say hi and flashing my big blue eyes in the hope of a cold one? Not for a moment. My research permit is far too valuable. Luckily for us, Coopers make a convincing birell (brewed without alcohol) that tastes great straight out of the freezer. While barbecuing steaks over our fire pit on Saturday night, for a brief moment I almost forgot it wasn’t the real thing.

With some time on my hands over Easter, some of the ladies organised to go out hunting for tirnka (little goannas). Armed with crowbars as digging sticks and billy cans as shovels, 8 women and 2 dogs packed into a troopie and made our way to tirnka country.

country

Tirnka country

We wandered through the bush for a couple of hours, stopping to dig at holes where there was evidence of recent action. It was a very successful hunt in the end, with eleven (!) tirnka bagged. We made a fire, sat down with a cup of tea and proceeded to cook up the catch. The preparation process involves removing gut then burning off the skin in the open flame for a couple of minutes. The lizards are then buried in coals and left to cook for about twenty minutes. The cooked flesh is delicious – pale white, smooth and tasty –hints of chicken (!) and fish and just a little bit smoky. No salt required. We got back to town on dusk, the ladies subsequently missing the Easter Sunday prayer meeting and making me three hours late for a sausage sizzle being hosted by the neighbours. Not good manners, but at the end of the day I think we were all where we really wanted to be.

tirnka 


One of the ladies left this little fella on her handbag on the dashboard while she continued hunting:

handbag

fire

The meals I’ve been cooking for myself and the occasional guest in the donger have been far less exotic but nevertheless delicious. I’m very excited to present my first blog recipe below: creamy corn fritters. The recipe comes courtesy of Ed, who prepared them on this occasion and who has spent a great deal of her four years living in Warakurna devising new ways to make tin foodstuffs interesting. She insists that the cream corn is the magic ingredient in this mix – without it, the fritters have trouble hanging together.

Creamy Corn Fritters

1 tin corn kernels
1 tin creamed corn
½ cup self-raising flour, but might need to add more depending on consistency of batter
2 eggs
a little bit of milk
1 onion, finely diced
Garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
A handful of fresh coriander (an option only available if you’ve been food shopping in Alice Springs recently)

Fold mixture together until dry ingredients are wet. Make sure batter is thick. Don’t over mix. Fry over medium heat until cooked through and golden brown. Serve hot and drizzled with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and a spoonful of home-made tomato relish on the side (in this instance made by Waikerie “Cobwebs” ladies). Best appreciated in the company of a handsome, hungry tradesman.

tradie

12 comments ↓

#1 Dr Sister Outlaw on 17.04.09 at 8:48 pm

Fab pictures, incredible experience, but please can we have a pic of handsome tradie?

#2 Pamela Faye on 17.04.09 at 9:06 pm

Alas, he was a little camera shy. But just look at his hands – a dead give-away on his handsomeness.

I took a photo today of a gorgeous young camel hunter, but also no permission granted for the blog as their contract explicitly states no publicity about what they do. But I am trying to get my hands on a bit of hump (!) and hope to report soon on how it cooks up.

#3 Pamela Faye on 17.04.09 at 9:21 pm

sorry, no hands (he does have lovely hands as well!) – check out his forearms!

#4 Arwen from Hoglet K on 18.04.09 at 9:53 am

It’s great to hear about your trip, especially the goanna hung. Gorgeous photo of the clouds there too.

My mum used to make corn fritters served with canned kippered herrings and tinned tomatoes. Big on flavour for sure!

#5 Dr Sister Outlaw on 18.04.09 at 1:17 pm

forearms and wrists do indeed look appealing, wish I could join in with the yummy fritters (and why don’t I have kecap manis in the cupboard?)

#6 Pamela Faye on 18.04.09 at 7:47 pm

Canned kippered herrings?!? Goodness me. There’s a camping food I have yet to try. Might come in handy next time I’m stuck out hunting and all the ladies bring back are lizards. Where can I get me some?

Love the look of the gluten-free cookie recipe on your site, by the way. My dad is has celiacs and I’m always looking for little treats for him.

#7 Francis Xavier Holden on 19.04.09 at 12:31 am

I’m thinking you could do those milk fed puppies the same way. Burn off hair over fire then slow roast grill in coals.

#8 Pamela Faye on 19.04.09 at 12:32 pm

It is the prefered cooking method for most hairy beasts out this way. Seasoned with salt and textured with a little bit of sand.

#9 dylwah on 19.04.09 at 1:21 pm

nice one Pamela Faye. reminds me of when my mum got home late from a work do one sat in the seventies. the local Bunjulung mob had been cooking echidna and mum had had her fair share and raved about it for the next few weeks. i don’t remember her talking about the cooking process too much except to say that it was cooked skin, and spines, on in the coals. I’m pretty sure it was illegal back then, prob still is in the Northern Rivers area, and my sister and i were sworn to secrecy. I agreed on the basis that i could have some next time and my sister aggreed on the basis that she wouldn’t have to try it. unfrotunatly, for me, prob a good thing for echidnas, the chance never came about.

#10 Pamela Faye on 19.04.09 at 2:13 pm

I’ve heard “porcipine” is delicious but a little fatty. I love the fact it is a meat that comes prepared with it’s own toothpicks.

Thanks to a legal challenge won by Marandoo Yanner in 1999 to have his traditional hunting rights over protected species recognised (see http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=1081), native title holders are now free to continue to hunt and fish species such as echindnas, bush turkeys, dugong, roos, emus and the like without fear of persecution under Australian law. The hunting, preparation and cooking of these animals are subsequently being practiced and maintained by Aboriginal people across the country. Just don’t try these recipes at home folks, unless you are Indigenous yourself. Illegal hunting of a bush turkey in Western Australia will cost you a lot of money – I’ve been told around $30,000. That’s about as gourmet as it gets by anyone’s standards.

#11 Rosie Posie on 23.04.09 at 7:48 am

Hey Pammy!
Those lizard are huge!!
Very creepy

#12 Pamela’s Eating Tails | Progressive Dinner Party on 15.05.09 at 3:22 pm

[...] Installments one , two, three, four and five. [...]

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