While Australians love good cuisine as much as anyone, there are a few favourite Australian foods that you’ll find in most kitchens.
Australian food has developed into a diverse cuisine which reflects our multicultural society. You’ll find an Indian, Italian or Chinese restaurant in almost every town. Some of our favourite dishes have been “borrowed” from the migrants who have settled in Australia, particularly since the 1950’s. Dishes such as chicken parmiagana, spaghetti bolognese and of course pizza are common on most Australian dinner tables.
Favourite Australian foods
Yet there are some foods which are iconically Australian. These are the foods our overseas family grab as soon as they get off the plane, or ask us to pack in the suitcase when we go to visit. They are Australia’s favourite foods.
Let’s get the most controversial one out of the way first. Vegemite would have to be Australia’s most maligned food, mostly because it is the most misunderstood.
The advertising campaign for the yeast extract became a national anthem during the 1960’s with the term “Happy Little Vegemites” firmly established in the Australian vernacular. Vegemite is certainly one of Australia’s favourite foods.
It is the number one item we are asked to ship overseas when we go to visit.
So let’s set the record straight. The reason most foreigners find Vegemite “disgusting” is that they spread it on two inches thick.
No wonder they find it unpalatable. It is a condiment. It is meant to be scraped onto your toast sparingly. Would you put two inches of hot English mustard on a sandwich? Same thing.
2. Meat pies
Australians love their meat pies. They can be found in every bakery, supermarket and at every sporting match. You’ll even find a pie warmer at most petrol stations, where you can grab a quick snack for the road.
There is a limitless varieties of pies available and we even have hotly contested competitions for Australia’s best meat pie. The standard pie has a minced meat filling, served with lashings of “dead horse” or tomato sauce.
Unlike the American connotation of pies, Aussie meat pies are hand-sized single serve treats.
3. Hamburger with the lot
Sometimes a meat pie just isn’t enough if you are really hungry. Most take-away food outlets around Australia offer a “burger with the lot”. As well as the standard beef patty, lettuce and tomato and onion, it has bacon, egg, beetroot, cheese and grilled pineapple. Yes you can get a “mega-burger” at any of the fast-food burger chains. But nothing beats a real Australian burger with the lot.
4, Lamb roast.
Traditionally in Australia, Mum would spend Sunday morning preparing a lamb roast for lunch. It is still so popular that it has been dubbed “Australia’s national dish. A succulent roast leg of lamb, served with roast potato, roast pumpkin, steamed vegetables and lashings of gravy is always on the requested menu when our overseas family come to stay.
5. Prawns, mangoes and avocados.
Australia has a wealth of seasonally available produce, however prawns, mangoes and avocados would be the favourites. Each can be eaten separately of course. We eat avocado on toast, in salads and on sandwiches. Nothing beats a juicy mango on a hot summers’ day and half a kilo of prawns is a yummy lunch option down by the beach.
However as the mangos and avocados are at their best around Christmas time, I usually combine them into my special salad.
Pavlova is Australia’s favourite dessert. You’re bound to find one at every Australian barbecue. Debate continues as to whether Australians or New Zealanders originally created the dessert. A gooey meringue base is topped with sweetened whipped cream, strawberries, kiwifruit and passionfruit. A seriously sickly sweet treat.
So if lamb roast is our national dish, and pavlova is our national dessert, Lamingtons are definitely Australia’s national cake. Sponge cake cut into squares is dipped into liquid chocolate icing and rolled in dessicated coconut. The deluxe version has a filling of strawberry jam and cream.
8. Tim Tams
The Australian national biscuit would of course be Tim Tams. Two chocolate biscuits, filled with chocolate cream and coated in chocolate. A number of variations on the original biscuit have hit the supermarket shelves in recent years, including caramel and also white chocolate. However the original triple chocolate version is the favourite and a packet certainly doesn’t last very long.
9. Savoury Shapes
Not a sweet tooth? Savoury shapes have been around as long as I can remember. Dad used to bring a (glass) bottle of lemonade and a pack of the savoury biscuits home to watch in front of the telly on a Saturday night.
The randomly shaped savoury biscuits now come in a variety of flavours. A couple of years ago, the manufacturers “improved” the flavour selection. This led to an outcry across Australia and they were forced to go back to the original formula. Another item that is requested in overseas “care packages”
10. Sausage sandwich
The humble sausage sandwich has been in the news quite a bit in the past year. At any community event, for a few dollars you can buy a barbecued sausage with onion and tomato sauce on bread as a fundraiser. It is certainly one of Australia’s favourite foods.
An Australian hardware chain allows community groups to set up the barbie outside their stores on the weekends to raise money. The sausage sanga made worldwide news when a patron at one store slipped on a piece of dropped onion and attempted to sue the store. This led to the store insisting that the onion must in future be placed under the sausage to prevent further mishaps. The reaction both in Australia and worldwide was quite humorous.
This year in Australia, our election cycle means we had both federal and state elections very close together. The schools, churches, fire brigades and other community groups who own the halls in which polling takes place usually fire up the barbie for a fundraiser, in the knowledge that every person in the area has to visit. The sausage sizzles were dubbed “democracy sausages”, a term that is certainly likely to last a lot longer than the great onion placement debate.
If you are an Australian, I’m sure you are very familiar with all the “favourites” on my list. I’m sure you have a few of your own. For visitors planning a trip “Down under”, make sure you try some of our favourite Australian foods while you are here.
Read Also: The Great Aussie Barbie