Eat my Words- Taste and Tales of Tropical Cooks

Join GULP for a five course meal under the stars, in the lush surrounds of the Mulch Pit Community Garden; as part of the Darwin Fringe Festival.
Eat my words

Community cooks from diverse backgrounds will use local tropical produce to create a fine meal made with love, and seasoned with their stories. As each course is served its creator will share not only the recipe and the origin of the ingredients, but also about themselves and their Darwin journey.

As well as knowledge about how to use tropical produce, guests will go home with a recipe booklet and greater understanding of how eating local can reduce the environmental impact of their diet by reducing waste and food miles.


Eat My Words! encourages participation from guests with ticket prices varying according to how much or how little you wish to contribute. Offer your creative talents and reduce your ticket price to just $5 or help set up or wash dishes at the end of the night and you’ll pay half. Alternatively, if you’re in a good place financially pay a little extra to support the ongoing work of the Mulch Pit. You might even like to pay it forward by purchasing our ‘be my guest option’ where you buy a ticket for yourself while sponsoring a place for someone who needs a little bit of good fortune to head their way.

Eat My Words! will be a low food miles and low waste event. We will be using lovely mistmatched crockery, cutlery and glassware, have on-site composting and wherever possible will endeavour to use ingredients with either no packaging, or recyclable packaging.

A selection of cold tisanes and infusions will be provided at the event. You are welcome to BYO alcoholic or other beverages.

Green Mango salad

Event Details

6pm til 10pm
Thursday 13th July, 2017
The Mulch Pit Community Garden
21 Cummins Street, Nightcliff

Help reduce the environmental footprint of Eat My Words! by cycling, sharing a ride or catching the bus. The number 4 bus stops on Francis Street, approx 150m from the venue. Timetables and maps can be found at


Various ticket prices/ involvement available- check it out! Limited seats available

SURPRISE! We are asking all our guests to bring along one small surprise (preferably something very low, or no, cost) to gift to a stranger at the event. It would be great if your gift connects to the event theme. Some suggestions are a plant, packet of seeds, favourite ingredient or cooking or gardening implement. This is a great opportunity to find a new home for something useful that you no longer need 🙂

Banana and coconut frozen desert 2


Important Information

So far we have cooks from the Phillipines, PNG and Southern Indian with more to come. The majority of the food will be vegetarian and gluten free but we can’t promise that all dishes will be both.

Resources and seating space for this event are pretty tight so all guest will need a ticket, children included – babes in arms should be fine.

Banana trunk soup

Want to know more?

Find out more about the MULCH PIT at –

IN PERSON – 21 Cummins Street, Nightcliff (Saturday mornings are best)

GULP NT (Growing and Using Local Plants) can be found online at –


Thanks to TASTE OF THE TOP END for use of their gorgeous pics of tropical tucker. Check out more at –


Don’t forget to share this campaign with your family and friends. It’s going to be an amazing, one-of-a kind event x


Wild food walk and talk

Wild food walk and talk (in a window of non-wild weather)

Busher tucker tiles 1Continuing on with the theme of wild food GULP hosted a wild food walk at Casaurina Coastal reserve with a focus on native plants. We worked to get Larrrakia guide and representative to lead the walk and talk, but in the end this was not possible as the head of Larrakia rangers, but we received their blessing and had a message to pass on from them.

The Larrakia people are the traditional caretakers of the land and always will be, they are saltwater people, making Lee Point and its creeks a very special place, particularly for food. A diet of seafood was suplimented with fruits and roots from the bush as well as eating some land animals. The plants tell a story of the time of year and reflect a story that everything is interconnected and in cycle.

As Darwin was taken over by “settlers” and as with pretty much everywhere else land stolen and developed, the Larrakia had a very difficult time continuing the same interaction with land and food. There are some very sacred places within the Casaurina beach area and many indigenous people from all over come to Darwin and still enjoy the bush tucker available. Some other introduced plants can also be found wild and can be eaten (such as Rosella)

Passing on the story of how our native landscapes hold valuable and amazing plants (and animals) will help keep these placed protected and respected, rather than seen as “unused scrubland” – a term often used for our wonderful bush.

Display table 2

This is a popular topic with over 50 people joining us for the walk and talk despite the wild weather warnings- luckily for us we happened to host this in a pocket of lightening skies.

The wild food guides included Yvette Brady, from Greening Australia, a very knowledgeable native horticulturalist and indigenous trainer; Rod Baker who works on a Bush Tucker program in a homeland in Arnhemland, Emma Lupin, GULP coordinator and native plant and wildlife specialist and Grusha Lehman- a knowledgeable community cook and lover of the Bush from our GULP and Food care projects who has spent many years foraging.

many walk

A display table was set up with a huge array of mainly fruits that are to be found in our native landscapes at this time of year.

After an intro talk on the many species in season and different places they are found and how to eat them, we took everyone in 4 guided groups to look at wild food plants insitu within the park.

rod toursEmma tours

Shortly we will add the details of all the plants covered in our walk and talks..

Ampelosiscus dec16


Syzygium armstrongii

We hope to host more wild food walks in future and Larrakia can join us to tell their story in person..

Wild food Weekend

The GULP NT project has recently starting focussing on bush tucker and wild foods (wild food also included feral animals and weeds) and developing ways of making these interesting plant parts and creatures into delicious dishes.

A group of interested individuals involved in the project got together to brain storm, discuss and experiment with the use of wild foods, including road kill, seafood, bush fruits, roots and leaves. This isn’t the first time as the GULP project has used wild foods to create recipes. GULP members have already been promoting the use of the cane toad, have been wild food collecting in the mangroves with long term Top End local Llyod and GULP has also been involved in a remote project working with a community on an Arnhem Land homeland in devolving products from the wild harvested and abundant Mundtj (Buchanania obovata)

Fruit selction
Before the recent wild food gathering members of the group harvested wild foods either individually or with others and brought them together.


The harvest included many Mud crabs, mud mussels, periwinkles and long bums. These were collected in the very amazing Adelaide River Mouth with environmentalist, local seafood enthusiast and friend Llyod. The expedition took all day but was very worth it.

Longbums, loved also by indigenous people are amazing food in a cone-shaped shell with the very awesome scientific name Telescopium Telescopium. They are found amongst a variety of brackish mangroves in the mud and once cooked turn a wild green colour. They can be boiled or cooked in the coals and then need to be smashed out of their shells. We cooked them up, once shelled in coconut lemongrass, ginger and chilli with home made coconut milk from foraged coconuts from Coconut Grove.


The main focus of our sea food harvest was the delicate and specialised mud mussel ( Polymesoda erosa or Jukwarringa in Tiwi). Once boiled for a short time they open revealing a salty and watery small shell fish which really is delicious. These are mostly found amongst the roots coming up from the mud of the Grey Mangrove, Avicennia marina and are best picked when buried far in the mud and harder to spot. This is the tidal zone, so you have to get in at low tide and you may end up as a mud monster.

Mussel broth best

We also picked up a few periwinkles found on the Stilt mangroves or Rhizophoro.

The mud mussels are best just steamed in a pan until they open. They can be cooked with the leaf of the Grey Mangrove, and this boiled with water is quite tasty as a tea.

A little note on sustainable harvest- Whenever collecting wild food you need to only take as much as you need, always leave more than you take so the plant or animal can reproduce. If the animal or plant is feral/ a weed then this rule does not apply and you help the native environment by taking the produce. 

On our sea journey we also put crab pots down and came back with some juicy mud crabs. We made sure all were big enough and put all females back.
Llyod and crab

Road kill wallaby also featured on the menu. This needs to be fresh, skinned and gutted and can then be frozen for later. It is very sad that many animals are hit by cars, but if you can eat them then there is less waste and to a point the meat had a natural and free life before the unfortunate end.

Bamboo 2

Lou took a technique often used in Asia and after cutting up the meat mixed with a variety of herbs and flavourings including lemongrass, ginger and chilli. This was then stuffed into the bamboo tubes and placed in the coals out of the flames of the fire and sort of steamed.

Bamboo steaming


 Cluster figs were collected by Grusha from Casaurina coastal reserve, they seem to be just getting ready here and all over the riverine margins. They grow on the stem and branches of this tree (Ficus racemosa) and change to an orangey colour when ready. They have a slightly fluffy texture with the hint of sweetness, but to be honest are not that delicious off the tree. Grusha made these into incredible syrup by stewing them in water in a slow cooker with sugar and spices for a couple of hours. These were so good. These were cooked up and a served on pancakes with yoghurt and kapok flowers.

Grusha figs

figs on pancakes figs top view

Pandanus nuts, were cooked on the coals and broken open, but with not much success, the seed seemed to be a little hard to get out, we might need to get a little more advice on this one from our Yolngu family.

Pandanus nuts

Kakudu plum- Terminalia ferdiandiana (frozen and pickled as just out of season) was bought along. The fruit seemed pretty tasty and less stringy frozen. The pickles, preserved in vinegar, sugar and spices were very tasty. It had been picked in May from the bush on the outskirts of Darwin.

pickled green plum

Local Yam root (Dioscorea sp.) was carefully peeled, this took a while as it is very hobbly boobly. This ha been grown in Grusha’s garden, originally collected from the bush. This is the time to harvest them, in unburnt bush so the leaves can be seen. The later in the dry season the foliage dies back.


Emma had collected Syzgium fibrosum, which actually occur more in Arnhem land, but have often planted in landscaping. These sweet little fruits were added to pickled crab and also made into a sweet sauce by simmering with sugar and having as a great side sauce.

Syzygium fibrosum bowl

Wild Rosella (yes kind of a weed) was bought along for cutting and preparing, but also some premade jam was bought along. The Rosella was actually collected in some remnant bushland in the Howard River region in some disturbed areas.

Rossella cutting

Kapok flowers which are currently in flower were added to dishes.

Water Lilly roots (Nyphaeae sp.) harvested that morning from our friend’s dam, were skinned and chopped up to go with the cooked crab. Some backyard egg and lemon mayonnaise was also made to go with it.

lotus roots

Some crab was also pickled with lemongrass, vinegar, ginger, a little chilli and Syzygium fibrosum, which Emma had harvested that morning. This Lilly Pilly is found in Arnhem Land and is very tasty and is now grown in many gardens and for landscaping, so can be ‘foraged’ from in more Urban areas. Steaming and then de-shelling the crab was quite a task!

Crabbed outcut crab in pot

pickled crab

Grevillea flowers from the Fern Leaf Grevillea (Grevillea Pteridifolia) were made into a delicious malty sweet drink, just by adding boiled water from the fire.

Grevillea tea

We also made some Hibiscus, lime and lemongrass tea, not native but also could be served in combination with the Grevillea..Hibiscus lemongrass tea

The gathering was held on  Liz ‘s 30 acre property in Darwin river , which she manages as Land for Wildlife and is all intact, beautiful native woodland (and completely weed free) This seemed a great setting for a wild food workshop and we are very grateful to her as we had to change locations at the last minute and she let us use her place and outdoor kitchen. It is also worth noting that all the plant species that seem tasty to humans support wildlife from insects to birds and mammals.

Liz Amy and BhaviniThis workshop was just the start of many more wild food collecting and preparation experiences and the project hopes to host walks and workshops on particular bush tucker in the October/ November season for any interested others and involve Larrakia representatives.

We will also cover each of these ingredients separately and feature focus pieces on them, so watch this space and we would love to hear from you if you cook with wild foods / bush tucker.

Go Bananas

So it seems such a while ago now that we celebrated the banana at our GULP NT banana festival in conjunction with The Mulch Pit and Lakeside Drive community gardens. It is so sad for back yard gardeners that their bananas are being asked to be removed and many people are upset and bananas are a very big part of their life and the deadline for removing bananas is getting closer.

Banana chop chop

The idea of the festival was  due to backyard bananas  being eradicated from Darwin and rural backyards we would celebrate its importance and our love of bananas while they are still here.

The eradication is due to the finding of banana freckle in some bananas in the NT and is a quarantine program to save the bigger banana industry from this ( in a zone that stretches south of the rural area, and then there is a further zone around Bachelor  and a couple of zones East and West) Here is a map . Anyway this story is long and very emotional for many but basically we are  loosing our bananas and can’t grow any for perhaps two years. Now a lot of people are pretty upset about this (and rightly so, as there has not been great communication about the methodology, science and need behind all this) and there may or may not be good reason , but the idea was to celebrate this amazing plant. The banana plant is held highly as a food source in so many places included our wonderful multicultural Darwin and surrounds.

Banana shirt 1

Most people who have room in their yards grow bananas, and there can’t be too many people that don’t love them (so much they have awesome bananas shirts!)  and it is not just the ripe fruit that can be used, they are an amazing landscaping plant with most wonderful large green leaves.

There are many varieties of bananas in Darwin including Red Dakkas, Plantain, finger bananas, sugar bananas and many more.

The leaves can be used to wrap food, serve food, line cake tins, decorate and the list goes on.

The stem can be woven, made into paper and eaten  in amazing dishes, such as soup and curries.

banana stem 2

The green fruit can be eaten raw like a starchy root

The ripe fruit is eaten in many many ways …

We will write  more about this section in detail, but to start with, so we get it out there and show you some wonderful pictures. As we were so busy organising we handed over the camera- we were lucky enough to have our own banana stylist and photographer, Ashleigh Hayes, who is visiting Darwin and loves local food, learning all different foods and has a wonderful food blog ( Most of the photos below are hers and some by Emma lupin.

Anyway here is a brief run down of Banana festivities-

In the cooking area we had 3 (and a bit) fabulous cooking demonstrations,

Amanda, from West Papua who showed everyone how she prepares and cooks the banana flower- Banana flower cut

The most amazing part was the use of no chopping boards and cutting the flower with great skill in her hands! The banana flower was made into a fantastic stir fried salad with some amazing salty and spicy flavours. This dish is very Typical of a favourite dish from West Papua, where Amanda comes from originally.


Kimmy, who is Kerin from Bhurma and moved to Darwin 7 years ago showed us how she uses banana trunk to make a traditional dish, a soup with banana trunk and fish..


Banana trunk pile

The stem of bananas is stripped and then cut. It is important to use the stem of a small to medium banana plant that has not fruited.

Kimmy dish

The dish is a popular dish in Bhurma and is often cooked in soups or salads.

Banana trunk soup  Bhavini showed us how she uses green bananas to make an Indian curry, a favourite of her mum and one she loved growing up. Her family moved to London from India, where plantain were hard to come by, so when years later she moved to Darwin she was happy to

split plantain

Plantain cooked in their skin is a secret to this recipe


The curry is full of flavour and super tasty served with rice and a garnish of coriander.

Bhavini curryThere was a wonderful weaving workshop, where Lia showed participants how you prepare the stems of the banana to make fibre into fabulous woven items, you can also use the banana trash around the stem. There were some amazing creations!banana bowlbanana weave

banna trunk

So if you are very regretfully cutting down your bananas then you can peel the stems like an onion and cut them into long strips, then dry them out for a week or two in the sun (don’t let rain get to them) and then use them as an amazing fibre.

There was banana art displayed from the banana art workshop especially organised for the festival and facilitated by Alison Dowel the previous day..

ali art

banana artSaskia came along and made some great banana stem prints with the kids. Their structure is amazing and they make great stamps!

Banana Saskia printsWe were visited by our amazing and tall banana friends… IMG_2851

and the kids were entertained with Magic Megan and her face painting

Face paints

there were bean bag banana fights


and wonderful banana and coconut smoothies made on the pedal powdered smoothie bike leant by The City of Darwin and powered mainly by this awesome guy!

smoothie man

And many helpers..

Banana bikeThere was an amazing Play back Theatre where people’s banana stories were told back to them through performance, including one ladies story of the bananas she  was given from an old long time Darwin variety and she had taken from garden to garden and now had to get them chopped down.

There was a lively  talking circle to allow people to talk about their banana stories, how they felt about the eradication,  including some practical solutions for filling the gaps post banana plants from Lachlan Mackenzie of Lakeside Drive Garden, some scientific background to the banana freckle and its impact on bananas and banana industry from community member and scientist Rod Baker, the Rural residents Rights Group and other community members with their feelings on the eradication and their opposition to it infringing on people’s rights to grow food and other views and stories from other community members expressing their love for banana and their experiences of being asked to remove their plants.

Then there was food sharing of banana dishes and music..

Banana feast

Some of the banana dishes (above) and what a selection to try- (below)


Lachi banana bowl

Lachi’s Banana flower and sweet leaf salad

Banana flower salad Georgia

Georgia’s banana flower and cucumber salad

Dan and AlexBanana eating love


Banana bands

IMG_2909What an action pact evening and afternoon which really highlighted how high the banana is thought of by local people…

banana flower

Thanks so much to all those who played music (Groupie Funkers, Michael and Lou) , those who helped with the kids area, made smoothies, made food, to those from Playback theatre, Lia for helping with the weaving, those who contributed in the talking circle, all the cooking demonstrators, Magic Megan for face panting, Pick and Flick the stilt walking bananas,  those who bought food, Ali for her banana art workshop and all those who came along and The Mulch Pit for hosting!

Funding for parts of this event were provided by City of Darwin community grants and any donations on the day went toward the Mulch Pit and their new shed project!

Fair food Week food Share

Fair food Week is all about food produced fairly, locally and with as little waste as possible.

ladies eatingThe GULP project invited community members to join us for a fair food share in conjunction with the Mulchpit to highlight the great food system of local food we grow ourselves. A group of 1local produce cooks met and shared their local dishes on a sweaty Sunday afternoon

georgia chili eggsGeorgia of Alawa made curried eggs from her backyard chooks and garden chillieschili eggs

Penny of Nightcliff brought home made bread to go with locally grown Mango jam, that she made with ginger.

mango marmaladeZohara made a wonderful Garden Greens stir frykang kong dishEmma made a local watermelon, sweet leaf and coconut mint saladWatermelon, sweetleaf and coconut saladLauren bought along some crunchy and delicious home made and grown pickled Okra

okra- pickledThere was a wonderful selection of dishes to enjoy…Zohara eats

All washed down with some garden tea

Garden tea

After a garden tour

in the garden

Fair food is the way forward and Growing and Using Local Produce!