Purveyors of fine food in Europe have the yips about Australian farmers using their lingo. They are so protective of their food patches that it felled a whole free-trade agreement – their demands that we stop using the words ‘feta’, ‘prosecco’ or ‘parmesan’ being unacceptable to us.
Australia and Europe have been trying to hammer out the agreement for five years.
The handshake would have seen $100 billion of our beef, lamb, sugar and cheese in EU supermarkets – where 250 million people shop. But they wanted us to change the way we talk about food they say is theirs – monikers we know, love and devour. And that was one of the issues that brought it all unstuck. The issue is geography, apparently.
Champagne was sequestered off a decade ago and most of us have become used to saying sparkling wine instead. But the EU’s removal of other continental-born treat words was a bridge too far.
So, sod them, I say. Let’s celebrate our own produce from our own unique island by joining in the geographical food name game. Bananas battle it out with Coca-Cola as one of Australia’s top-selling supermarket items, and 95 per cent of them are grown in the Sunshine State. So let’s start calling them Queensland bananas. Our nickname is the Banana Benders, after all.
The delicacies from the ocean are responsible for other parochial delights. We can claim barramundi and be sure to say Moreton Bay before we say bugs or prawns.
Queensland mud crabs are a sweet sensation, so the geographical prefix should be used from here on in. Those buttery nuts were from Bauple long before they were Hawaiian macadamias. Queensland pineapples taste like our glorious sunshine and Woombye and Kenilworth cheeses are unique and awarded.
While we are at it, let’s stake our claim and have an official state dish that we shield from others’ appropriation. Salt and pepper squid is loved nationwide, featuring on almost every menu from gungy pub grub to haute cuisine. And there is bush food that has been Queensland’s own for thousands of years. So, let’s settle on Moreton Bay bugs, served with a Bauple nut, lemon myrtle and Queensland pineapple crumble.
Words for our food are almost as important as the morsels themselves. We should feel proud of our own. It makes the meat pie and fairy bread feel very outdated.