Sunraysia Farmers’ Market, Mildura and Italianità

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You don’t have to look far to find Italianità in Mildura and the surrounding district, Sunraysia. Many of you may know of the famous restaurateur from Mildura, Stefano de Piero, not only noted for his fine cuisine at the Grand Hotel some years ago, but also through his series, ‘A Gondola on the Murray’ and various cookbooks. Not so many know about the thousands of  Italo -Australiani who contribute to the farming community around the district.  Although first generation Italians now make up less that 2% of the population, second and third generation Italo- Australiani make up a significant proportion of the population and have contributed much to the town, its culture, agriculture and the arts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A quick tour around the Sunraysia Farmers’ Market, held every first and third Saturday of the month, will provide you with some irresistible provisions for touring the district. An important consideration, when buying fruit and vegetables, is to take into account any State border crossings. As Mildura sits in Victoria, close to South Australia and New South Wales, quarantine laws demand that one must forfeit most fruit and vegetables on entering another State.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is enforced by officials upon entering South Australia and through signage and the voluntary depositing of goods on entering Victoria and New South Wales. The borders can be confusing upon entering/leaving the Sunraysia district which seems to have some extraordinary quarantine lines within Victoria itself. It’s all about protecting South Australia and the Sunraysia district from fruit-fly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some demographics from a past census will show that 353,000 Italian migrants arrived in Australia in the post war period, from 1948 through to 1970. Most of the Italian born are now aged over 60. They have kept alive many of the farming traditions learnt from pre-war times and this is particularly evident in preserving techniques and salame making.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe wine industry in the Sunraysia district makes up 80% of all Victorian wine grape production. The highways linking Mildura with Swan Hill are lined with farms selling wine, olive oil, citrus fruits, avocados and vegetables. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the farmers’ market, there are plenty of roadside stalls with honesty boxes selling all kinds of fresh produce, on both sides of the Murray river in each state.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

25 thoughts on “Sunraysia Farmers’ Market, Mildura and Italianità”

  1. Yes, we lived on blood oranges for a few weeks while travelling. They make the best juice- you feel like a vampire drinking it. I prefer my blood orange juice in a champagne flute as it’s so special.

    Like

      1. Thanks for the link. Not much of a foodie really. However, I made your posted Turkish Lentil Bride soup again last night. Still not red and I used ghee instead of butter. It was delicious. Thanks for that recipe; its a stayer.

        Like

  2. Sunraysia sounds like heaven… wine, fresh produce, olives, markets and roadside stalls. I cannot think to imagine life without Italian influence, how dull it would be. I just know I would buy too much at the markets!

    Like

  3. It does happen! I bought some tasty dried black olives- never tasted them so good, some pickled eggplant strips done the trad way, and of course a whole heap of fruit which I then handed over to the stern man on the SA border. I simply got so carried away and forgot about the border. Not to worry though. On the South Australian side, the same produce was available in roadside stalls along the Murray there. The blood oranges were the best.

    Like

  4. I don’t know how you say ‘bucket list’ in Italian, but as an Australian-Italian living in Sydney, I should get out more. The Mildura district is certainly one that I need to visit soon. Last year I was at a farmers’ market in Victor Harbor, South Australia and I came upon some Buddha’s Hands – I wrote a blog post about them which includes a recipe for candying them. They’re great. http://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/buddhas-hand-citron-lemon-with-a-twist/

    Like

    1. I read your post on Buddha hands- nice one and thank you. We missed the market in Victor Harbour and on that day, it was rather windy and uninviting. I think you would enjoy Mildura but it’s an 11 hour drive from Sydney so I guess you have to be committed to a big road trip, or fly.

      Like

  5. Very interesting what you say about Italian immigrants keeping old farming traditions alive – or at least moving in a different direction from the homeland. I wonder how this affected the Australian Greek community? Although, perhaps they were not farming? A lot to think on. By the way, those Buddha hands are decidedly odd!

    Like

  6. The Greek community, like the Italian community, have retained many old Greek customs and recipes. I remember learning my first Spanakopita from my friend Demos’ mother in my early twenties. My city neighbour ( when I’m in there) makes all her own pastry, honey biscuits, almond biscuits, hard cake breads, and all manner of things that arrive at our front door because she cooks so much ( She is 84) The Greek community in Brunswick, a suburb near Melbourne, is mostly made up of elderly women: they attend the orthodox church often for all those life and death events, and this involves masses of cooking. I think they all keep each other alive.
    The other thing which is curious is the retaining of original dialect, even amongst the second and third generation Italians. I met with a great deal of resistance when teaching Italian to some high school students because it wasn’t the same as Nonna or Nonno’s Italian ( invariably Calabrese or Siciliana). There are many regional Italian clubs in Melbourne, the Abruzzo club, the Friulan club and so on. In the end, the oldies had to learn Italian standard so that they could communicate with each other.
    BTW, the book arrived and I am finding it hard to keep away from it. It looks strangely familiar. Perhaps I have seen it somewhere but certainly never considered reading it until you planted the book in my mind. I love it!
    The buddha hands are used to make cedro.

    Like

  7. I agree Francesca, Mildura is a foodie heaven. The quarantine inspectors at the state borders are ruthless, but then it would be a disaster if there was a fruit fly infestation. Our (food ) culture would be far poorer without our immigrants, wherever they are from

    Like

    1. It is true, we are lucky to have such a variety of influence. Now there are manyTurkish immigrants working in that area, and of course one can purchase a Gozleme from the same market. In keeping with my supposed theme, I like to focus on the Italian input when I can.

      Like

    1. We had some good and bad weather Celia. The wind was annoying at times but that happens in spring. I now have my eldest son not only checking on the cows and the chooks, but feeding Celia in the fridge. Won’t be long before he gets sucked into the sourdough making scene!

      Like

Now over to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s