If you’re traveling around Australia, and hanging around with some locals, I’m sure that you will come across some typical Australian food and while you’re here you really should try some of it! From meat you don’t normally find in other supermarkets to chocolate biscuits, to the most common Australian food you should try even though, in my opinion, you probably shouldn’t because some of it is disgusting (Vegemite I’m looking at you!)
Popular Australian Food
Vegemite is the most common one that ‘foreigners’ discover, and more often than not, hate! No matter how many people tell you it’s disgusting you should try it at least once. I’m assuming it’s an acquired taste…
So what is Vegemite? Vegemite is a dark brown paste made from various vegetables, yeast extract and spice additives. The most popular way to eat it is on bread or toast with butter. Australians also eat it with avocado, melted cheese or tomato. (Yuck!) I’ve tried Vegemite and it not only looks and smells disgusting it also tastes disgusting. I thought it would taste like syrup, but it tastes very salty and not sweet at all.
The biggest culinary hobby in Australia is the Aussie barbecue. The barbecue, also ‘barbie’, in Australia is a way for Aussies to socialise with friends and family and is probably so popular because of the fantastic weather all year (well in most parts of the country anyway). When you think of Australia you think of surfing, nice weather, kangaroo’s and the barbecue. “Throw another shrimp on the barbie” is a quote often said even though Australians call them prawns and not shrimps! In fact, many Aussies dislike this phrase and claim that it’s just another Australian stereotype.
A typical Aussie barbecue is with sausages, burgers, steak, fresh seafood, bread and tomato or barbecue sauce, they sometimes include salad but it’s mainly about the meat and fish (and of course a few stubbies – that’s beer to the non-Australians). Australians will literally have a barbeque anywhere, not just at home. Local councils provide barbeques for the general public to use at popular tourist spots like beaches. (Just clean up after yourself!) When you’re staying in a hostel or you meet some locals, you’re sure to have at least one barbeque a week!
Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy an Avocado now and then (usually as a Guacamole as a side to my nachos). But Australians LOVE their Avocados – especially with their eggs and breakfast dishes. In most cafes you will notice that you can order a side of Avocado with your poached, scrambled or fried eggs. You may even notice that the avocado is already included within the breakfast dish. I tried an avocado for breakfast for the first time, smeared on toast and topped with Rocket, Feta and Tomatoes. It was actually quite delicious! Aussies also have a fondness for avocado and Vegemite on toast… don’t knock it until you try it.
4. Tim Tams!
Any backpacker who has traveled through Australia will have tried Australias favourite chocolate biscuit… the Tim Tam. I ate my first Tim Tam after a sea kayaking tour and I loved it! If you eat one, it’s hard not to eat a second or third! I think you must become addicted.
From one of the sea kayak guys I heard that the best way to eat them is the Tim Tam slam: bite the diagonal corners off the Tim Tam and take a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Use the Tim Tam as a straw and suck the drink through the biscuit. Then before it gets too soggy, and falls into your drink, you eat the soft, gooey (warm!) chocolatey goodness. MMM.
5. Meat Pies
For most Americans this next popular Australian food is very peculiar (it was even an eating challenge on one season of the Amazing Race and the competitors were retching because they thought it was so disgusting!) So what is this food that Americans think is so awful? It’s the classic Aussie Meat Pie! (I know… for a lot of us it’s not that strange a concept, however Americans are used to their pies having fruit in them and eating them as dessert so I suppose it is a bit weird to eat a meaty dessert!)
Pies are a popular snack to eat on the go and almost every corner shop, bakery and supermarket will have a display case with lots of hot meaty pies to choose from. There are even specialty pie shops! Australians have many different savoury pies you can buy, however they are usually stuffed with minced meat, gravy, mushrooms, onions and cheese. It is also a good snack after a long night of partying (better than a kebab!). After drinking and dancing you end the night with a meat pie in your hand, sitting on the pavement waiting for your taxi to go home.
6. Anzac Cookies
ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps that fought together during WWI. ANZAC Day is a public holiday in Australia to celebrate the men that fought for the country. During the war, the wives baked these delicious ANZAC cookies to send off to their men at war. They were cheap to make and could stay fresh throughout long boat journeys. They are made with coconut, golden syrup and oats… yum!
7. Organic Food
Organic food is very popular in Australia. The range of organic products in the supermarkets is getting bigger and bigger. If Australians can choose between organic or not, the ones I’ve come across mostly choose organic (although that could be because I’m currently living in the hippy capital of Australia – Byron Bay, actually at probably the most hippy of all hostels – The Arts Factory Lodge!).
In Australia you also get to try lots of fantastic new fruit and vegetables that are much cheaper than other parts of the world. Mmm, organic tropical fruit salad!
8. Fish and Chips
Australians do a bloody good Fish and Chips. OK most English visitors will be quite skeptical of this statement when it comes to Fish and Chips. Australians have yet to master the art of mushy chips and gravy. But considering that the entire country is surrounded by ocean, you are pretty much guaranteed to always get a delicious and fresh piece of fish.
The Aussies and the Kiwis have forever fought for the title as the “inventor’ of the Pavlova – a meringue cake base topped with whipped cream and fruit. Regardless of its origin, the pavlova is absolutely delicious! You are most likely able to find a Pavlova in a Cake Shop or Bakery. You can also buy them pre made from most major supermarket chains (look in the bread or frozen dessert section).
10. Witchetty Grub
If you really want to experience some proper Aussie Bush Tucker – then a Witchetty Grub is the way to go. These little fellas taste a little like chicken and contain just as much protein as an entire piece of steak! The aboriginal Australians have eaten these for years and the nutritional benefits may just help you to overcome the gooey texture.
While visitors usually take pictures of kangaroos bouncing around, the kangaroo is also a common meat to be found on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus. Kangaroo is lean red meat, it’s healthy and you can prepare it in many ways – steaks, burgers, sausages, and much more. I’ve tried kangaroo meat with a nice marinade and it was delicious! With a tasty marinade it is definitely recommended if you want to try it once.
Like the Kangaroo, the Emu can be found on the Australian Coat of Arms. Might be odd to eat your national emblems but there you go!
You’ll be hard pushed to travel around Australia and not see Barramundi on the menu at least once. Barramundi is the Aboriginal name for this type of sea-bass found in Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Barramundi literally translates as “large-scaled silver fish”. You have to try this fish, it’s very popular for good reason – it’s delicious!
If you like coconut you’ll love this very Aussie food – the Lamington. A Lamington is basically a square of sponge cake covered in chocolate sauce or sometimes raspberry sauce and then covered in coconut. To begin with I avoided these because I thought they sounded disgusting, however they’re really nice with a cup of tea in the afternoon!
Wherever you go in the world I think you should always try the traditional local food at least once. You may hate it but then again you may discover your new favourite thing! (Shame they don’t sell Kangaroo in Holland!)