Cuisine of Australia

From Academic Kids

Template:Cuisine Traditional Australian cuisine was based on English cooking brought to the country by the first European settlers. This cuisine generally consisted of Sunday roasts, grilled chops, and other forms of meat, and was generally accompanied by vegetables (often known colloquially as "three veg") such as mashed potatoes, beans, peas, and carrots (often served soggy or overcooked). This trend has declined considerably with the multicultural emphasis of Australian culture over the last thirty to fifty years.

Background

Fifty years ago, Australian cuisine was monotonous and unsophisticated; Chicken Maryland would be regarded as a sophisticated dish. By stark contrast, today's Australian cuisine is some of the most diverse available anywhere, due to the many cultural influences. Modern Australian cuisine has been heavily influenced by the country's South East Asian neighbours, and by the many waves of immigrants from there, and all parts of the world. Similarly, Greek, Lebanese and Italian influences are common. Fresh produce is readily available and thus used extensively, and the trend (urged by long-term government health initiatives) is towards low-salt, low-fat healthy cookery incorporating lean meat and lightly cooked, colourful, steamed or stir-fried vegetables.

Some English trends are still evident in domestic cuisine, among them a widespread tradition of having a hot roast turkey, chicken and/or ham with all the trimmings for Christmas dinner, followed by a heavy Christmas pudding. Australia's wide variety of seafood are also popular, especially for festivities, while barbecues are common at weekend family gatherings.

Takeaway food in Australia

Despite the best intentions of government health schemes and cultural marketing initiatives, the traditional Australian palate is amply serviced by an extensive takeaway food industry. Two of the most traditional takeaway dishes are the meat pie and sausage roll. These come in varying grades, ranging from the mass-produced factory outputs of Four-and-Twenty and Big Ben, sold on every street corner in milk bars, through to gourmet pies sold by specialist pie shops. There is an annual competition to find the 'Great Australian Meat Pie', and the winners are greatly removed from their fat-laden antecedents.

American-style chain stores are common including Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King (known as Hungry Jacks due to a trademark issue), and of course McDonalds (commonly called Maccas by locals). An alternative to the US imports is offered by the Australian chicken fastfood chain Red Rooster, and by the corner Pizza shops, charcoal chicken stores, fish and chip shops and a wide range of small enterprises. Many of these sell high-quality food for reasonable prices, but the only way to find the good ones is to try them.

Chinese and Asian restaurants provide eat-in and takeaway services, and once again they cover the gamut from Europeanised 'faux' Asian food (soggy sweet-and-sour chicken) to the authentic. Most Australians prefer the genuine article, and the number of high-quality Asian restaurants is increasing.

Uniquely Australian dishes

Vegemite on toast.
Enlarge
Vegemite on toast.

Probably the most well known Australian food is Vegemite. Similar to the British Marmite it is a strong tasting, yeast extract spread, common in sandwiches or on toast. Some Australian sweets, such as the Violet Crumble chocolate bar, are manufactured in Australia and are sold within the country, as well as a few international places such as Hawaii. Tim Tams are a chocolate biscuit, generally only common in Australia.

There are a small number of desserts and sweet dishes that are regarded as peculiarly Australian:

Note there are persistant claims that Pavlova, Lamingtons and Anzac biscuits all originated in New Zealand, not Australia.

Meats and fish that are uniquely Australian include:

These meats have long been traditional in Aboriginal diets, and in rural white Australia. They can be seen on the menus of many of Australia's top restaurants.

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