Sharing First Nations Culture and Cuisine with Rulla Kelly-Mansell

It’s a simple idea, and one that has a deep connection to Australian culture: from small things, big things develop.

So goes the song, by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly, about the nascent land rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

But for ABC’s Rulla Kelly-Mansell, originally from northern Lutruwita-Tasmania and now living in Adelaide, the phrase is literal too.

Kelly-Mansell’s new show, Cooking on Country, deals with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and explains how the nation’s landscape has acted as a greenhouse and pantry for Indigenous Australians for thousands of years. years.

“It’s called Cooking on Country for a reason,” Kelly-Mansell said.

“There’s this story that we traditionally lived, like that was it, but no. We had a sustainable way of life, we were the first farmers, we had it all figured out.

“There is an alternative way of life within reach, valued and respectful of the traditional ways of life of First Nations peoples.

Kelly-Mansell described Cooking on Country as a light take on the traditional format of a cooking show, but it also has some serious and personal undertones, and briefly touches on Kelly-Mansell’s cancer diagnosis at the age of 27. .

The salon promotes traditional cuisine as a form of gastronomy in its own right. (Cooking in the countryside)

Proud man from Tulampanga Kooparoona Niara Pakana travels to Darwin with his close friend, fellow footballer turned artist Marlon Motlop, where they share stories – and recipes – with locals.

“In this particular case, it is the people of Larrakia – the Larrakia are the saltwater dwellers of the Northern Territory,” said Kelly-Mansell.

“We travel to the Northern Territory, we travel to Darwin, we go hunting for the food that we eat, and in doing that, we are on Country, and we are learning from the people of Larrakia.”

In one episode, Kelly-Mansell and Motlop team up with Motlop’s cousin, Daniel, a man from Larrakia and former AFL footballer, to cook mud crab – a delicacy Kelly-Mansell describes as “the Top End Crayfish ”.

Other dishes on the menu include native figs, green ants, barramundi, and magpie goose.

A blurry photo of a man walking in a paddock
Former AFL footballer Daniel Motlop appears in one of the episodes for Cooking Mudcrab. (Cooking in the countryside)

Combine the commercial with the sustainable

In recent years, the “bush tucker” has undergone a rebranding.

While previous TV shows – notably The Bush Tucker Man – have helped showcase traditional cuisine, Cooking on Country doesn’t just focus on food as food.

Rather, the show promotes traditional cuisine as a form of fine dining in its own right, as something the general Australian public should include on their own plates.

Bush tucker is something very much in the same spirit as the haute cuisine of other nations of the world.

“In terms of meals, I think they’re all going to surprise people,” Kelly-Mansell said.

“A lot of people probably won’t even know what a magpie is.

Another theme at the heart of Cooking on Country is the value of traditional foods and recipes, both ethically and commercially.

“I’m a close friend of two brothers who also run a business focused on food, and native food in particular,” said Kelly-Mansell.

“They basically hunt and collect it themselves, bring it back and sell it in their store.

“The idea is that we showcase people doing this in a commercial setting, and we emphasize the importance of going out and collecting it and what we can cook from it – and coming back to Country.”

A close up of a man looking at a liquid in a jar
Rulla Kelly-Mansell says Cooking on Country is a lightweight take on the traditional cooking show format.(Cooking in the countryside)

But, as Kelly-Mansell points out, one type of value derives from another.

It is only by respecting the land and what it provides that those involved in its culture can ensure its sustainability as a resource.

“There is an old saying about Aboriginal culture: there were no words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ because they were never needed, you just expected you to shared, ”he said.

“We never take more than we have to.

“We can do this in an ethical and sustainable way that does not harm the longevity of the species but also benefits your health.”

Cooking on Country is now available to watch on ABC iview.

Comments are closed.