After living in Australia more than 20 years, I can say that there are still aspect of Australian cuisine that I find worth exploring and learning about. What defines food of the country I now call home? Traditionally a lot of meat, but since the whole continent is surrounded by the sea/ocean there is an abundance of seafood. That is what I loved about Australia: fresh, healthy variety of the seafood platter. Add some original brands of wine and good beer and you have a recipe for success in every aspect.
The European settlers that arrived to Australia at the end of the XVIII century brought ‘their’ food with them as well, and it was a fairly ordinary English diet - lots of potatoes and other overcooked vegetables plus meet (lamb and beef in particular). Today’s Australia is ‘far’ from this concept, in so many ways that some would call it a culinary paradise. In the last 200 years, different people(s) arriving from all corners of the world enriched its cuisine. Italians and Greeks started it, then slowly in the mid 1950’s southern Europeans, and later on Asians, all made Australia a great place to ‘enjoy food and tucker’ as the locals say.
The Aborigines of Australia are the great masters of ‘bush tucker’ - edible products found in the desert or plains of the Outback. A great TV program called Bush Tucker Man was very popular not long ago, and helped in describing what can be eaten in its natural environment. What else is Aussie food?
- Pavlova, a famous dessert created for a Russian ballerina visiting Australia in the 1920s
- Pea and ham soup
- Lots of barbecued meat, including emu and kangaroo as well as lamb and beef
- Already mentioned grilled fish (particularly barramundi) and seafood of different varieties
- Sausage rolls and meat pies are still extremely popular with Australians
- Vegemite, a yeast-based spread which many Assies pack and carry everywhere
We’ve covered food, what about drinks? Australians are very proud of their wine and beer industries. In the world’s 4th-largest exporter of wine today, it would be difficult to cover the full richness of regions and wine products here. But briefly, the regions are the Barossa in South Australia, Yarra in Victoria, and Margaret River in West Australia, and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. The wines are usually on ‘the heavier’ side, with famous Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Shiraz, but there are Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs as well. The names to remember and buy include Cape Mantel from Western Australia as well as Brokenwood wines from Hunter Valley and Yarra Valley Cab Sauv. Most of these wines can be found online at Jims Cellars shop.
It would be a mistake to overlook beer brewing! Again, Australia holds the No. 4 position in the world for beer consumption (approx. 110 litres per person per year). Almost every region is famous for different brands. For example, NSW has Tooheys, Reschs, and Hahn; Victoria is famous for Carlton Draught and Victoria Bitter; South Australia brings Coopers; and Tasmania has extremely popular Boags and Cascade.
Australia is in the forefront of developing its tourism industry today and food/drinks add every bit to the success of this endeavor. People are proud of what they have to offer and visitors are excited to try these original products while enjoying their holiday in this ‘Timeless Land’, or as Australians like to say – The Oldest Land on Earth.