When you think of Italian food, you probably think of pizza and pasta. When you think of traveling to Mexico, you can imagine eating tacos, burritos and enchiladas. When you think of Thailand, you imagine delicious pad thai and green curries, but a lot of people wouldn’t know what food to expect in Australia.
I had no idea the foods I ate at home on a daily basis were truly Australian until I left and couldn’t find them anywhere else. And believe me, I tried.
Vegemite on toast
You probably saw this one coming, but this yeasty, savoury spread really is a staple food in any Aussies diet. Get an Aussie to make it for you too, because most people think it’s like Nutella and layer it on. No wonder most people hate it their first try! The above picture should be a good guide.
Chicken Parmigiana (or just simply Parma’s for Aussies) was one of the foods I didn’t realise was very Australian until I was craving one overseas and couldn’t find it ANYWHERE. This traditional pub meal isn’t just a food, but it’s an event with “pot & parma nights” a regular thing for locals. The dish is a hearty take on the Austrian schnitzel, with tomato paste-sauce, ham and cheese layered on top. You can also get vegetarian versions with eggplant. Delish!
We do breakfast unlike anywhere else in the world. Forget the traditional English breakfast and go for the more gourmet type meals to start the day that are now as common as a morning coffee (which we also do very well). Think smashed Avo (Avocado), spinach, ham or prosciutto, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce on thick sourdough bread. Australians LOVE breakfast and in most cities there are more small cafes serving all day breakfast than there are people.
I was shocked to find out that Americans think this meat filled pastry is so strange. So weird that the Amazing Race contestants actually had to eat one as an ‘eating challenge’ when they were down under. Team a dog’s eye and dead horse (slang for pie and sauce) with a footy match (Australian football game) and you’ve hit the jackpot on a true Australian outing.
Essentially, its a barbecued version of the hot dog. Simply wrapped in a slice of bread and topped with tomato sauce, grilled onion and sometimes bacon if you’re feeling a little fancy. Unlike the ridiculous sentence foreigners like to use to imitate us, it’s not the shrimp we’ll be throwing on the barbie, but more like “throw another snag on the barbie”. A summer fave.
A new craze sweeping the country right now is this dessert shake. A desert and drink in one that originated from Canberra based cafe Cafe Patissez. The original freakshow was released earlier this year and has had copycat versions seen not only across the country, but all across the world. These delights include a delicious mix of flavours, topped with cream, berries, nuts, pretzels, candy and stacked with anything from Nutella filled donuts to fairy floss to lemon tarts and cheesecake. Here’s a list of some of the best places to find them:
Babooshka Bar (who recently created a controversial double donut and bacon shake) – Northbridge
Sapore Espresso Bar – Cloverdale
Whisk Creamery – Subiaco
St. Louis House of Fine Ice-cream and Dessert
Milkaholic – Norwood
Health in a bowl, pretty much. With the high-in-antioxidants berry being the base for a delicious berry smoothie, thrown in a bowl with fruits, nuts, seeds and anything healthy on top. It also tastes amazing.
Our most cherished biscuit. Now coming in many different flavours, from the moment you taste your first one you won’t stop eating them until airport security catch you out for stashing too many in your suitcase on your way home.
Whilst there is a never-ending debate between Australia and New Zealand with which country created this delicious cake, it is still very much an Aussie delicacy. Fluffy meringue on the inside, crispy meringue on the outside and topped traditionally with an assortment of fruits, it’s mouthwatering to say the least.
These savoury, simple biscuits got their name from World War I when ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers would get sent them by their wives all the way from home. Because of their ingredients, they could keep for a long time during their long journey to Europe.
Light sponge cake coated in chocolate and shredded coconut. It’s the perfect cake to accompany tea and coffee.
Fish and chips by the beach
Ok so fish and chips may not be an Aussie invention, but the way we do it just might be. Being an island country, we have some of the freshest seafood in the world and an abundance of takeaway food stores to go with it. And with beautiful coastlines to sit and enjoy dinner, it’s hardly an experience you’ll find elsewhere.
Aussies love their lamb and Sunday roasts is a common tradition. Most, if not all restaurants will have this on their menu.
It just sounds Australian doesn’t it? But really this cherished deep fried favourite is a take on the Chinese spring roll. Despite it’s name, there is no chicken, just beef along with the usual ingredients of a spring roll (celery, cabbage, carrot etc).
I know what you’re thinking, it’s just spaghetti bolognese? That’s Italian? Yes, but no. Italians version of this dish is very much focused on the pasta, with a little sauce and maybe some meat thrown in. But in Australia, the pasta is the side dish, with a lot of beef and vegetables like mushrooms, onion, real tomatoes and even eggplant sometimes added to the mix. A hearty Aussie staple dish.
Much like the meat pie, it’s a food you will find at every convenience store, bakery, service station, cafe and wherever else sells hot food really. But the best ones are the huge home made ones found at cafes. Perfect for breakfast.
Cheese and bacon rolls
A bread roll with cheese and bacon on top. Pretty self-explanatory. Known for being in every kids school lunch boxes, it only needs butter… or for the lazy hungover uni students, not even that.
I was so shocked to find no burgers overseas containing beetroot, pineapple or egg. I was even more shocked when people from said countries would give me weird looks when I mentioned it. An Aussie burger with the lot almost always contains beetroot, pineapple, bacon and a fried egg. Hey, don’t knock it ’til you try it.
Native Animals (Kangaroo, Crocodile, Barramundi)
Yes, we are the only country in the world that eats our national emblem, the kangaroo. But unfortunately their forever growing numbers and the fact that they taste good mean we eat them quite regularly. And if you couldn’t tell already by most things on this list, we love our meat. It is also one of the leanest meats you can eat. Salty crocodile can be found up north and Barramundi is probably the most Australian of the fish varieties. Never deep fried, the large river fish is served seared as a steak with herbs and marinades and will be found at most restaurants.
Ok, so it’s not a food, and not very Australian either but Aussies take their coffee seriously. Small unique cafes across the country make coffee making a fine art and baristas are one of, if not the best paid profession in the hospitality industry here. Try one and you’ll see why were all hooked.
Bon appetit !