What ingredient should you be using more of in home cooking?
Well, Mark Olive, who boasts over 30 years’ cooking experience and tars in NITV's cooking show On Country Kitchen has the answer.
“We need to get out there and embrace our own produce such as kangaroo, crocodile and emu. Overseas is hovering up all of our herbs, spices, fruits and meat,” he said.
"We just need to start jumping on board and supporting our national cuisine … Not meat pie or a can of Fosters, it’s actually kangaroo, emu and that sort of stuff.”
“The kangaroo and emu may be our code of arms, but for Aboriginal people it was a great food source, clothing source and integrated into our daily lifestyles.”
““It needs to be called something else. We don’t go to the butchers and ask for a kilo of sheep, pig or cow — it’s actually beef, pork or lamb.”
He says that in order for wider Australia to jump on board, changes must be made and he believes it all begins with the name.
“It needs to be called something else. We don’t go to the butchers and ask for a kilo of sheep, pig or cow — it’s actually beef, pork or lamb,” he said.
“We’re always disassociating ourselves with what we’re buying, which means not thinking about the animal. In Perth, they call Kangaroo meat 'Yonga', 'Marloo' and in other areas 'Jeera'. So really, it just needs to be given a new name.”
Apart from tasting good — kangaroo is a gamey meat, with a similar tenderness to that of lamb, with a strong robust flavour kind of like venison — when it comes to good nutrition, kangaroo meat is known to be a terrific source of high-quality protein and low in fat. It's a particularly good source of iron and zinc.
On Country Kitchen is a delicious twist of adventure, following Mark and comic, Derek Nannup, who travel to seek out the freshest produce to create mouth-watering dishes.
For both presenters, the ability to bring food back to their grassroots was what made this show so special, but Derek says that being able to taste new flavours was a personal treat for him.
“I didn’t know much about abalone and now [in Season 1] I got that chance to actually eat it, not just cooked, but also raw."
Mark has a passion for fusing native and Indigenous Australian ingredients with contemporary cooking techniques to create a dynamic and unique gastronomic philosophy.
There’s no doubt that for Mark, creative cooking is his forte, but working with new people out bush was a highlight.
“Apart from Derek’s constant dad jokes, I get to work in great places," Mark explains. "I mean the kitchen we had out bush was really flash compared to some of the places I’ve been.”
Derek says programs like On Country Kitchen are beneficial for Aboriginal Australia.
“It’s all about our native herbs, spices and traditional bush tucker.”
But Derek says it’s not just about the food.
“Seeing the Indigenous people produce the food, going back to basics and using organic produce to highlight our culture and ideals of ‘living with the land’ is really interesting,” he says.
“It’s something Aboriginal people have done for thousands of years so it’s good to see everyone jumping on board and immersing themselves in Aboriginal culture.”
Mark says his focus on Indigenous techniques and native produce is a bonus, but the main attraction for everyone is recognising talented Indigenous people.
“We [the show] have a Koori from the East and a Noongar from the West, who work really well together… But I think the main attraction that people will get from On Country Kitchen, especially non-Indigenous people, will see there’s Indigenous people out there doing stuff professionally,” he said.
“Not only professionals in our field, but it also showcases other Indigenous communities, how approachable they and how the produce and everything within these regions are being picked up."
On Country Kitchen airs Wednesdays, 8pm on NITV (Ch. 34). Steam online on SBS On Demand.