Described as a cross between a plum and a Sichuan (or Szechuan) pepper, the pepper berry was “the pinnacle of native bushfoods” and prized by the state’s Indigenous custodians as they moved across the state, the duo said.
“These plants go back in time and we can’t replace that with European food,” Ms Ooms said.
“Real food has a story, it comes from a particular place and has been harvested in a particular way. It’s embedded within the landscape,” Mr Chapman said.
Pre-‘invasion’ foods served with a side of culture
Pepper berries are just one of the native ingredients being used to spice up dishes that are served by Tasmania’s first and only Aboriginal food business, palawa kipli, which means Tasmanian Aboriginal food.
Tim Sculthorpe is the proud palawa man behind the operation.
Concerned by an increasingly unsustainable world and eager to get back in touch with his Aboriginal heritage, Mr Sculthorpe began the business two years ago in an effort to bridge the cultural divide and encourage sustainable food practices.
“The fact there are no Tasmanian Aboriginal food businesses in the world and no-one knows anything about palawa people, I wondered how I can educate people,” he said.
“Everyone is so busy in today’s world, no-one sits down to talk about anything, so I thought ‘alright, let’s sit down and start a conversation about Aboriginal culture’
“Travelling the world, I kept being asked what Australian food is and I would always say it’s vegemite or meat pies, but then I realised, that is invaders’ foods.”
“I want all of Australia to own the fact that Aboriginal food is Australian food — and that’s something we should all be proud of.”