The Taste of Tasmania
France may have its terroir, but Tasmania also has a distinctive food-producing culture of its own. Much more humble than the celebrated fare of Provence and the Loire, perhaps, but uniquely Tasmanian.
It wasn’t something I was particularly aware of, when I first moved here, but it’s something I’ve come to appreciate deeply: the fact that, scattered all over this island, are all manner of providores, many of them extremely “boutique”, often small, family run operations. There’s nothing like driving somewhere in Tasmania and stopping by a crudely painted sign next to someone’s gate and picking something off a rickety card table – as often as not with nothing but an honesty box left beside it.
Some are peculiar to Tasmania – scallop pies, Leatherwood honey – but while many others may be found in, indeed have come from, other parts of the world, something about this “lonely, cold little island”, as Erroll Flynn (fondly) described it, imparts a fresh and unique quality to foods you might not even think to associate with Tasmania, such as wasabi, saffron or truffles.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share with you some of my personal favourites, and include a recipe that features it in some way.
I must admit, though, that my knowledge of Tasmania’s producers is far from encyclopaedic. In particular, everything south of Oatlands* is still pretty much a mystery to me. I’ve only lived here 6 years, so I’m still discovering things. For such a small place, Tasmania has a lot to discover.
*This is a Tasmanian expression, referring to the “north-south” geographical/political/cultural divide of the island. The U.S.A. may have the Mason-Dixon line, the Australian Mainland may have the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry, but the rivalry between North and South, Launceston and Hobart, could give them all a run for its money. The town of Oatlands, although it’s geographically slightly closer to Hobart, is generally reckoned as the midway point of the North-South divide.
(Then there’s the West Coast – that’s almost another country unto itself …)