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What is Australian cuisine?

Is there one, or a handful of, identifying or representative dish(es)?

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  1. Morton bay bugs, barramundi, beer, girls, lamb. Any order.

    7 Replies
      1. re: jrvedivici

        A sleezy way to duck child support. "Sandra, meet Donnie Dingo."

      2. re: Veggo

        You forgot yabbies and left out two more mentions of beer

          1. re: porker

            Recall that in New South Wales, drafts are served by the pint, and in Far North Queensland, they are served by the "pot".

        1. As with any national cuisine, particularly for those countries which are relatively new, Australia relies on its immigrant communities for it dishes. For example, fish & chips and meat pies are as iconic Australian foods as they are British foods.

          And, as with any national cuisine, it's affected by what products are raised locally. With much of the country's population living in the coastal areas, it's hardly surprising that seafood is very popular. And vast amounts of land are given over to raising sheep and cattle.

          Modern Australian restaurant cuisine often looks to the Pacific Rim countries for inspiration, adapting dishes to local produce, etc. But, for traditional Australian food, you'd generally look towards the British Isles, although dishes will, of course, be adapted to local circumstances and tastes.

          1. vanilla slice, custard tart, lamingtons, pavlova, anzac biscuits, meat pies, ummm... lots of barbecuing (grilling, NOT American 'bbq'.) 'Traditional' Australian cooking was British all the way, but in my lifetime it's become a real global melting pot. The main cuisines that you WON'T find in Australia are Mexican and Caribbean, and there's not a lot of African influence because most of the immigrants came from Europe or more recently south-east Asia.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Kajikit

              Vanilla slice & custard tart both must have British connections, as they're both popular cakes here.

              1. re: Kajikit

                Its been a few years since my last visit, but most of the backyard grills I saw in Sydney/Brisbane/Gold Coast wouldn't even rate as a "grill". They basically cooked on a metal sheet heated by propane flame. I teased that they were cookng on the hood of a Buick...
                and "shrimp on the barbie" was despised as American nonsense. They were cookng lamb sausage.

                1. re: porker

                  "I teased that they were cookng on the hood of a Holden..."

                  Fixed it for ya :-)

                  1. re: LotusRapper

                    Good catch. The Australian import duties on foreign cars are goofy high.

                1. Salties? (Crocodiles). Oops, my bad Australians are Salties cuisine.

                  1. Toohey's, Vic Bitters on draught..no one that I know of in AUS drinks Fosters.
                    Fresh grilled Barramundi, and some of the best Indian and Thai food on the planet.
                    Fish n' chips are some of the best with malt vinegar..their pubs are legendary and cricket games too.
                    Fantastic Country and they all seem to love a great time and they are gracious to the tourists!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      "no one that I know of in AUS drinks Fosters"

                      What? I cant trust my movie education? say it isnt so!!!

                      Why does it have such a strong Indian and Thi influence?

                      1. re: girloftheworld

                        American Fosters oil cans are brewed in......Fort Worth.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Reallllly? Texas is so amazing! Dr. Pepper ,Saved the wine industry in France, invented "Chicago style pizza"...

                        2. re: girloftheworld

                          Australia had a lot of immigration from India. In the 70s it was relatively easy to get a visa.

                        3. re: Beach Chick

                          Don't forget Flake - otherwise known as shark. Great with chips

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            Ahhhh, Toohey's Old. Lotsa people called it "old man's beer" but I thought it to be a pretty good dark ale akin to a black&tan.

                            1. re: LotusRapper

                              Plus 1 for the meat pies! (But if you know what a 'drongo' is in Australia, my vote will be of little comfort!)

                            2. Pavlova the meringue-based dessert.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Gio

                                That's one of those hotly contested food things - with New Zealand having the other claim to inventing it.

                                A bit like the hotly contested claim for the first British place to serve fish & chips - was it London in 1865, or Mossley in 1860.

                                By the by, Fosters is now a British owned company. And the brewing facility here is about 10 minutes drive from me - I pass it every time I go into the city.

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      Yummmmm bloomin onion!!!! Nothing says Australian to me more than a deep fried onion, oh and a Koala bear! Oh and Fosters....ok so a Koala bear eating a bloomin' onion drinking a Fosters, that's Australian!

                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                          And tucker in, drongo ! Pass me some of them grog, wee ya ?

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Someone should come and decapitate your fingers for typing such a thing... (j/k)

                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                          My fingers don't have any heads. Must be an Oz thing :-P

                                        2. The carpetbag steak (nice big steak stuffed with oysters) used to be regarded as the ultimate Aussie dish

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: kagemusha49

                                            That sounds great. I've only had beef and oysters in a pie - very Victorian Britain sort of thing

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              I'm a pie n mash man meself. Never worked up the nerve to tackle jellied eels.

                                              1. re: kagemusha49

                                                Me neither - on the eels. I've had smoked eel but that's as near as I've come (my partner used to bring it back from the Netherlands for me)

                                                And I'm a northern Brit - so it's chips with my pies, not mash.

                                            2. re: kagemusha49

                                              wikipedia says that's an American thing...

                                            3. Tim Tams and Vegemite.

                                              Together or separately.

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: NE_Wombat

                                                Took 15 hours for vegemite to come up. Surprising.

                                                  1. re: Bkeats

                                                    Too right. McDonalds serves little packets of the vile stuff with English muffins at breakfast.

                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      Vegemite isn't vile - just not as good as the original thing Marmite

                                                      1. re: kagemusha49

                                                        Funny, you can't get vegemite in Canada so I asked my Aussie friend about Marmite (which is available here).
                                                        She said Marmite was OK, just not as good as Vegemite...

                                                        1. re: porker

                                                          I have to agree with your friend. I keep both in the house but use Vegemite exclusively when eating on toast. I cook with it often as well. The Marmite is good for certain braised dishes when I want a more toned down version of the stuff.

                                                          I've forced a few friends into taste off competitions between the two and all have preferred Vegemite (if they can even stomach it) to Marmite but both are good.

                                                            1. re: kagemusha49

                                                              I've been trying to find it. Doesn't seem to be anywhere in my area.

                                                              1. re: ChervilGeorge

                                                                You either have to buy it online or go to the UK to buy it or persuade a friend in the UK to ship it to you. Buying online is expensive but it is sooooo good.

                                                    2. re: NE_Wombat

                                                      My daughter brought me Tim Tams from NZ. when she visited in April. Tears of joy!

                                                    3. My observation of the most common foods available: Meat pies, with properly cut mince; curry; seafood, especially shrimp/prawns, barramundi and flathead. Also lots of s.e. Asian influenced dishes.

                                                          1. It's been years since I lived there but dishes that made regular rotation were: meat pies, sausage rolls, pasties, fish and chips (shark), grilled prawns and fish, lobster (but I think we called it crayfish), grilled steaks (not beef) and roasted tomatoes, lamb prepared in all sorts of ways, full English breakfast, sautéed onions with everything, lamingtons, pavlova, interestingly flavoured crisps (potato chips) - tomato was my favourite, violet crumble candy bars.

                                                            There weren't too many vegetables happening as I recall but I lived at the ocean, far from any town of significant population. We pretty much lived on seafood.

                                                            Lamb was certainly the dominant meat of choice but it was not unusual to see horse or kangaroo on your plate. I don't remember beef having a presence where I lived.

                                                            1. What a question! In addition to having lived in a few countries, I've worked in butcher shops in two suburbs here and run a cafe in Sydney.
                                                              If you're talking general cuisine, I keep hearing it described as "Fusion" -- probably due to the significant Asian influence mixed with the strong british base. I think, though, there's a bit of friction and figuring it out right now as far as what real Australian Cuisine should be defined as :)
                                                              Bangers & Mash are common, as are sausage rolls, meat pies, fish & chips. You've got typical pub grub galore.
                                                              Sushi, roti, dim sum/yum cha, some great curries, excellent Thai food, I hear great things about the roti, etc.

                                                              The produce markets can have a lot more of the Southeast Asian produce-- think rambutan, longan, lychee, durian, lotus root, a plethora of greens, a variety of mushrooms, etc. While game meats such as kangaroo and crocodile are available, my Aussie friends don't seem as keen on it. Lamb is big, as are snags (sausages) on the barbie with onions and tomato sauce. A Sausage Sizzle fundraiser is pretty common :) Prawns are well-loved, as is Barramundi.
                                                              Lamingtons, pavlova, Anzac bikkies, and slices are popular desserts. Vanilla slice, caramel slice, and custard tarts all go down a treat. But, macarons and croquembouche and such have gotten a lot of press here the last couple of years as well.
                                                              Who can forget Vegemite? Love it or hate it, really. TimTams, Kinder or Cadbury chocolates, and I find Aussies love their Lollies (often gummy candies).

                                                              Like any country, there's not just one dish or cuisine. What I don't find, sadly, is much of the south american, mexican, or african influence. It's growing, but I really miss a good TexMex resto sometimes ;)