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Worms on the menu in Alice Springs -

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ELEANOR HALL: In Alice Springs budding chefs spent the weekend whipping up creations for the town's
bush foods competition. On the menu was witchetty grub sushi and snotty gobble cake, which
apparently tastes better than it sounds.

Culinary experts say the bush foods industry is about to take off but that Aboriginal people in
central Australia won't necessarily reap the rewards.

In Alice Springs, Sara Everingham reports.

BUSH FOODS COOK: So this is roo tail cooked with, in an Italian style. It is slow cooked with, what
are those little baby tomatoes called?

BUSH FOODS COOK 2: Cherry tomatoes.

BUSH FOODS COOK: Cherry tomatoes.

BUSH FOODS COOK 2: Hallelujah.

BUSH FOODS COOK: With it is a weed pie, sorry weed salad.

SARA EVERINGHAM: On Saturday nervous cooks served up their creations to a panel of judges ready to
explore the tastes of the centre.

They were challenged early on by the Warlpiri woman Bess Price and the Alice resident Rita Cattoni
- their bloodwood apple or bush coconut sorbet was presented complete with the worm that's held
inside the fruit - it's a small creature with slimy flesh.

RITA CATTONI: Bess insisted that we had to use the worm.


RITA CATTONI: It is an important part...

BESS PRICE: We just eat the whole lot. We don't throw anything away.

RITA CATTONI: And also with the worm, I wasn't going to use it because I figured I didn't want to
serve something to the judges that I wasn't prepared to eat myself so Bess insisted that I eat one
of the worms ahead of time.


RITA CATTONI: It was great, it was fine. It was nothing. It was just what Bess said. It was just a
sack of water.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Bess Price says she went the extra mile for her dish - going out into the Tanami
Desert to collect the bush coconuts, avoiding using any bush foods available in the supermarkets in
Alice Springs.

Jo Dutton also spent hours picking a small sweet fruit known as snotty gobble for her chocolate

Last week she and Carol Turner an Arrernte woman served up witchetty grub or jarpa sushi. They had
been hoping to follow it up this week by using the grubs in a dessert.

JO DUTTON: We were hoping if we collected a lot of jarpa, to try and make jarpa marzipan. Yeah,
because, have you eaten cooked jarpa?


JO DUTTON: Oh, well it has got a very almondy taste and I had this idea that if we got enough we
could try and make a marzipan out of them.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But the plan was thwarted when hours of digging in the red sand resulted in only a
few of the grubs being found.

JO DUTTON: Carol says it's because it says it's been unseasonably hot. So, you know, jarpa is
really much more abundant in winter.

SARA EVERINGHAM: For Jo Dutton the competition is all about using what's available in the wild
around the red centre.

JO DUTTON: It is important that food doesn't have a huge carbon imprint. If it comes from a long
way away and it takes a lot of energy to get it here, then it is not a good food.

SARA EVERINGHAM: So local produce is what you are trying to cook?

JO DUTTON: Yeah, local produce, local seasonal good food and I also think that Carol, like lots of
Aboriginal people, has an amazing kind of knowledge about what is out there and where it is and I
think it is good to utilise that in the way you eat.

SARA EVERINGHAM: One of the judges the Indigenous chef Raylene Brown says a few years ago she was
laughed at when she suggested putting bush tomatoes on the menu. Now she says that's changing, but
she worries about the way the bush foods industry is developing.

RAYLENE BROWN: I have concerns for the fact that there isn't a regulator in regard to the women
that are harvesting at the moment. The more wider, like the bush tomato and the wattle seed and we
are at the bottom of the value chain. You know there is not a lot that comes back to our people.

SARA EVERINGHAM: She's helping develop protocols for the industry to make sure Indigenous people
aren't left behind.

RAYLENE BROWN: And no one has put a price on it yet because I don't think anyone wants to be game
enough to guess how much money the industry is making but I know that it is making a fair bit and I
think it is really hard work for those women you know and they don't get, you know, they don't
enough for what they do.

ELEANOR HALL: That is chef Raylene Brown with Sara Everingham in Alice Springs.