Diggings 24 November 2020

More than a job: Indigenous saltwater people mix business with culture

They plan to open Gadu Fishing charters. “It is not only a fishing adventure, it is story telling and knowledge,” Mr Webster said. Most non-Indigenous people thought middens were coastal rubbish dumps, but he said they acted as a record of how the sea had changed.

I have been doing a lot of deep reading about strategies for decolonisation of foodways and one of them is building Indigenous businesses. Stories like this give me some hope.


South Australia’s disappearing springs raise questions for miner BHP

Mound spring, Lake Eyre, South Australia. Image: smh.com.au

RMIT environmental engineering expert Gavid Mudd has studied the mound springs closely for more than 20 years and said there was no doubt the extraction of so much groundwater had contributed to a reduction in flow pressure. Some had dried up entirely. Although the Arabana submission to the inquiry acknowledges water users such as pastoralists and petroleum companies, it largely focuses on BHP’s water use and the unique South Australian laws that grant it a virtually unchallenged right to groundwater. Under the 1982 Roxby Downs Indenture Act, the original Olympic Dam owner Western Mining and present owner BHP are afforded special privileges that trump Aboriginal heritage laws and almost all other state laws and regulations.

Sure, drain the Great Artesian Basin in the driest parts of the driest continent on earth and destroy forever vital water sources that sustained Aboriginal people and native fauna and flora for 65,000 years.


A Solution to Pandemic Hunger, Eyeballs and All

On a recent Friday, Mr. Lataimaumi looked hungry just talking about the 10 bags of fish heads he was about to load into his car at the Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae. He said he liked to roast them. He covers a baking tray with a layer of onions and tomatoes, before pouring on a liberal amount of coconut milk and sprinkling in some hot chili. Then he places the fish heads on top, covers the tray with tin foil, and slides it in the oven. “I couldn’t get to sleep at night thinking about tomorrow,” Mr. Lataimaumi said of the family’s food shortages before he started receiving the free fish heads. The next week, he said, his family of four would eat fish heads most nights.

Followers of Diggings will know that I love a good ‘offal’ story – it can now be disclosed that I also do love fish head soup.

Why chefs and the hospitality industry are optimistic about 2021

Hope became a scarce commodity for large parts of 2020, when coronavirus brought the restaurant industry to its knees. But resilience, creativity and a whole lot of blue-sky thinking has shown the mettle of the people who don’t just work in hospitality but are hospitality.

I will keep an eye out to see who delivers on these moves.


Vale Sizzler: the cheese toast king couldn’t keep up with dining trends

The pressures faced by Sizzler can also be seen in the Australian fine-dining sector. There has been an explosion of mid-tier, casual but trendy venues opening to accommodate diners’ changing tastes. This has led to closures of both “value for money” sit-down restaurants, like Sizzler, at one end of the spectrum, and fine dining at the other end. Our notion of what constitutes “good value” has also evolved.

The Sizzler at Campbelltown, New South Wales, was my parent’s favoured lunch out and family gathering eatery – but I do not mourn its passing.


Return of a ramen pioneer gives boost to Japan’s Covid-hit restaurant sector

“With fewer people working late in the office or going out drinking – and fewer people using trains – due to Covid, this has got to be hurting the ramen trade. But I also think tastes and demographics are changing, so there is probably less demand in general for ramen. The boom years for the ramen chains will not come back the way they were. Japan seems to be changing structurally in a way that is being accelerated by the pandemic.”

Interesting similarities here between the ramen shops in Japan and the recent articles on the café sector in Sydney and Melbourne  – COVID 19 shaking out an oversupplied market.


Bring on the urban farm, but don’t deign to usurp nature

I know what you’ll say. Needs must. But as self-declared lunatic Scotty Foster noted, “innovate all you like, but if you innovate on top of a broken system, it’s still gonna be a broken, nature-destroying system.” The urge to dominate nature is the problem here, not the solution. Call me romantic, but I trust the randomised world of weather, bugs and dirt. Colour me unpersuaded by roots that have never touched soil, chloroplasts that have never absorbed photons from the sun.

There is something more than a little privileged about this view.


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