Australian chefs take inspiration from all around the world to create menus that fuse ideas into what’s now called ‘modern Australian’ cuisine. There are some quirks of the Aussie palate that haven’t been lost to this new cuisine and remain staple counterparts to our ever-changing dietary habits.
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- Since the invention of the ‘gourmet’ pizza, the choice of toppings has taken the notion of pizza to a whole new level but there’s one topping that Australians have embraced long before the idea of ‘gourmet’ came into the realm of popularity. Pineapple is well and good as a poolside snack or as the base of a fruity cocktail but mixed with ham and cheese on a pizza? Yes it’s an Aussie favourite.
- Yes it’s a national icon and even sits proudly on our coat of arms but alarmingly (to some), we harvest them for steaks, satays and burgers. Our beloved Kangaroo has proven to be a stayer on the menus of restaurants all over Australia despite its celebrated position in our cultural psyche.
- Be aware when ordering a hamburger with ‘the lot’ when travelling around Australia. You may get more than you bargain for. A true Aussie burger contains slices of delicious, rich purple rounds of beetroot, straight from the tin where it has sat preserved for time eternal until released to the palate. In some corners of the nation you may even encounter a thick sweet juicy round of pineapple wedged amongst the other traditional hamburger fillings (again, tinned from eternity).
- Breakfasts are big news in Australia and we embrace the big Aussie breakfast with gusto. Travelers will undoubtedly come across something called Vegemite listed alongside other spreads such as marmalade. Be brave and smear some of this black paste on your morning toast, even if only to say that you’ve tried our national breakfast pride. Everyone who has grown up in Australia has grown up on Vegemite. If you’ve not grown up on it, it’s likely to be a very strange and offensive taste but you can’t say you’ve had a classic Aussie breakfast until you’ve tried it.
- A delightful legacy of traditional Indigenous Aboriginal Australians has been the huge range of native fruits, spices, nuts and berries that contemporary Australian chefs have embraced and incorporated into salads, sauces and deserts. Collectively it’s called ‘bush tucker and it comprises unfamiliar ingredients such as quandongs, myrtle, wattle, saltbush, yam, paperbark, ironbark and much more. Don’t hesitate to ask your wait staff to explain the subtleties of bush tucker if you come across it, or better yet, seek it out for yourselves.
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You’ll not want for choice in the eating stakes while travelling in Australia but you should seek out these quirks of the local diet if you are looking for that true Aussie flavor. As the saying goes, when in Rome…
(Featured image: Dale Mastin)