Eating the Coat of Arms

Travelling out of my latte-luvvy comfort zone for a Saturday night BBQ was never going to simple, though we love the old friend wishing to re ignite the friendship by inviting us to meet his fiancée.

Their flagpole was visible before we saw the house, in fact it could be seen for miles. As our friend opened the door I managed not to express my joy that he was marrying Quentin Bryce, after all, who else hangs out a flag as big as WA?

Am I snob? A food snob for sure, I thought, as I watched her put out an assortment of processed, high salt, high fat, low-fibre snacks from their individual (read unsustainable) packages. I saw these snacks as symbolic of the evening ahead. Where were the olives?

Multiculturalism has not made great inroads in this locale. The bride-to-be, evidently thinking a spot of refugee bashing would go down a treat with her two migrant guests, provided a diatribe about all these refugees getting everything including new cars apparently, while we (read white) Australians suffer.

I will not repeat her comments about Indigenous Australians. At some point I managed to steer the conversation towards food and innocently inquired whether they ate kangaroo. Well you would think I’d suggested she cook her puppy dog. How dare anyone eat the coat of arms?

I have always blamed Skippy for the paltry amount of roo we consume in this country but she absolutely insisted on the coat of arms defence and was strident that no one else eats theirs, why should we?

I did point out that there are good reasons for this: the bald eagle (US) wouldn’t taste so good and I’d hate to guess when a lion or a unicorn, were last seen in the UK. The French apparently also have a lion and an eagle. Indeed lions, dragons, large birds and assorted strange mythical creatures abound in the heraldic world.

As usual Australia is blessed. We have our own assorted very strange creatures but they really do exist, here. We’re just really lucky ours are so plentiful, sustainable and delicious.

I would have put all this behind me until I found myself enjoying the culinary magic of Mark (the black) Olive – our own Indigenous celebrity chef, who was, unsurprisingly doing great things with roo and emu. It was when the Black Olive suggested we don’t like the idea of eating our coat arms I recalled my new friend. How shocked would she be to have anything in common with an Indigenous Australian?

Only the Olive was suggesting that we get over it, enjoy our good fortune and slap another emu fillet on the barbie.

Want to express your Australian identity? Might I suggest that eating animals, which are native to this land, is a better way than hanging a flag, a quarter of which sports the Union Jack?

Dr Felicity Newman is a member of the Centre for Everyday Life at Murdoch University