What is Australian food?

25 Jan

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When people travel the world they usually tell stories of the architecture, the people and the food. Nationalities have their own food that has evolved from over hundreds if not thousands of years. It’s usually very healthy for you. Michael Pollan, author of “Food Rules”, described the “French Paradox” in that the French are healthier than Americans despite eating cheeses, wines and foie-gras in large quantities. Makes sense right, if the food wasn’t nutritious and allowed a full and healthy life then that culture would probably have died out!

So what is Australian food? And to be clear I’m talking about the 2nd Australians – western / Caucasians, not the original people of the land (and without a doubt their food is nutritious and mostly pretty nice). With Australia day upon us I’ve seen commercials and advertisements for various “Australian” food. And while I know what Australian food is definitely NOT (like hot dogs, doughnuts and probably pickled food) there’s a lot of grey area. 

Take this list for instance that I found in the Daily Telegraph

  1. A seafood platter
  2. A burger with the log (presumably they are including beetroot and pineapple). 
  3. A mixed grill (just a fancy BBQ in my mind). 
  4. Fish and Chips
  5. Pumpkin Soup
  6. A table of salads
  7. Avocado and vegemite on toast. 
  8. Sticky Date pudding
  9. Pavlova
  10. The Tim Tam suck

Pumpkin soup?? Sticky data pudding?? Not sure about those – sorry Matt, another thing we disagree on. 

Here’s another list from Aussie Farmers Direct

  1. Lamingtons
  2. Lamb Chops
  3. BBQ
  4. Souvlaki
  5. Pavlova nests
  6. Coleslaw
  7. Salad
  8. Wraps

Definitely some front-runners in that list. How could the Telegraph miss Lamingtons and Lamb Chops. But again, some things that I probably wouldn’t have thought traditional Aussie food. What I like about this list though is it’s nod to the multiculturalism of Australia with the souvlaki. While the greek immigration to Australia is well known and quite influential, particularly in the southern states, I’m not sure a food is allowed on 2 countries list of national foods. 🙂

And with all the recent news surrounding SPCA (disclaimer: I do work for their parent company Coca-Cola Amatil) and their push for support of Australian grown food has found a friend in comedian Dave Hughes. This article says starting the day with tin of baked beans is a national past time! Not so sure of that but I agree baked beans are pretty Aussie. 

There’s some notable omissions in the above lists so I’d throw these into the ring as well:

  1. Vegemite and cheese sandwich (vegemite anything!)
  2. Watermelon
  3. Meat pies
  4. Sausage rolls
  5. Tuna bake
  6. Trifle with jelly and sponge cake
  7. Macadamia nuts

What else is there? What really reminds you of Australian food? Did you grow up with something particular or if you visited what was the standout food you tried?

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2 Responses to “What is Australian food?”

  1. Brad February 13, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Almost all of these things are either awful or a bastardised version of something else. Baked beans is just a poor man’s version of something tasty you’d find in the UK or Europe. Think of how the Spanish do beans – delicious!

    One of the reasons we don’t have much of a national cuisine is because our indigenous peoples were so isolated and didn’t have much to work with (no trade with other lands), and their cultures (including foods) were practically obliterated anyway. Apart from them, the land has only been peopled for around 200 years. How can much of a food culture develop in that time, especially in such a globalised world?

    • lincdk February 13, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Thanks for your thoughts Brad.

      Interesting idea you raise that globalisation is actually stifling unique cultures from developing. Though what about the infamous “Tall Poppy” syndrome Aussie’s are apparently inflicted with? That’s a cultural condition borne in the last 200 years.

      I’ve been following some of Australian chef’s, like Andrew Fielke, trying to bring indigenous food to modern tables. There’s a world of food out there that we just haven’t tried, though I’d argue some wont be a good fit for our palate. Have you tried any of these?

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