A couple of weeks ago, Tim received the following email from his august New-South-Welsh father: "Tim, would Lexi like some bunya nuts?" Tim said yes. Of course I'd like some bunya nuts. Who wouldn't like bunya nuts? Who, especially, having recently seen a lifetime's supply of almonds disapparate in the presence of cockatoos, wouldn't say yes-diggety-yes to the offer of compensatory nuts d'bunya?
A week later: "How many would she like?" We decided that Pa of Tim had probably come by a single bunya cone. Loath to deprive him overly of his riches, I suggested, tentatively, "Seventeen?" Seventeen kernels from a single cone still leaves thirty or so kernels for the finder to keeper.
A week later: "You'd better bring a suitcase when you visit. I've got 20kg of nuts for you." Turns out Tim's progenitor had interpreted "seventeen bunya nuts" as seventeen stonking, bigger-than-your-head, heftier-than-a-bowling-ball, spikier-than-a-spiky-thing bunya tree cones, and had been assiduously gathering them from the local park, rolling them home with the help of a small team of elephants, hacking them apart with his tomahawk and cutting the kernels from their shells with his bare teeth and/or secateurs.
One of several yet-to-be-tomahawked cones.
Approximately a fifth of the current harvest.
Raw, these chaps have a tough woody skin. We addressed this by boiling a potful for 45 minutes, which softened the skins enough that we could wrestle them off with our bare claws and/or a fork and pliers.
We're now munching the kernels with pumpkin dip. They're chestnutty, starchy and waxy, a bit like potatoes, intensely filling. 9% protein, which ain't much for a nut, but sure beats spuds. And we have 19 kilos to go. If we can get them back to Lalor, we won't need an alternative source of carbs for months, and while I'm pretty fond of alternative sources of carbs, I'm also darned excited by the thought of being able to live longterm on the droppings of a tree rooted in a public park.
So excited, in fact, that I'm tempted to bury seeds all over Lalor and sprout a local bunya nut forest. They're allegedly indigenous to south-east Queensland, but are growing and fruiting (with a vengeance, I can verify) not far north of Sydney, and I've seen a tree in Werribee Park, which bodes well for other climatically equivalent parts of Melbs. The minor matters of them being gigantisimally huge and having a habit of dropping mega-conkers on people's heads are quite beside the point.
N.B. Edible Culture gives a much more thorough account of how to grow, massacre, cook and eat your own bunya nuts.