I love Australia – it started my backpacking adventures back in 2009 and it’s still one of my favourite places on the planet.
Backpackers visit the land down under for many reasons – some for work, some for wildlife and some simply for the epic east coast backpacking scene. But despite being a relatively young country Oz has some heaps good culinary treats up its sleeve…so here’s a little guide to Aussie Cuisine…
Originally of course, traditional Australian fare was whatever indigenous foods were available to the Aborigines out in the bush. Then with the arrival of the British it lapsed into the traditional meat and two veg meals that are the staple of the Brit table!
After the Second World War however, with the influx of people from all over the world, first from northern Europe and later from the Mediterranean and Afacesia, the Aussie table once again changed as these immigrants brought with them diversity and tastes that up until then had been relatively unknown in Australia.
Over the years with the mixing of cultures and the blending of dishes, Australia can not be said to have only one traditional meal and has even re-vitalized old Aborigine favorites such as kangaroo and crocodile – which is always a different experience from the backpacker staple of 2 minute noodles!
Like most western countries Australia hasn’t got a single traditional dish – in fact Australians have perhaps separated into two groups when it comes to their dietary preferences; there are the city dwellers and those that live in the country. In the cities and towns, especially the bigger ones, the diversity of the food matches the diversity of the cultures whilst in the countryside they are more restricted to ‘home grown’ fare.
Although eating out in the cities of Australia may not be as inexpensive as perhaps the UK or the States, Australians love dinning out, which means that there has to be a large number of cafes and restaurants to cater to this need. This of course means that with a large number of restaurants, there is also a wide diversity in choices. It’s Asian neighbours have become a firm favourite with Vietnamese, Thai, Malay and Chinese restaurants becoming among the most popular.
So whether you’re staying in a backpacker hostel or using sites like au.hotelscan.com to grab a hotel deal you’ll be well placed to sample some great eateries.
Although Chinese restaurants are starting to make an appearance throughout the country, there certainly is not an abundance of them at this time and so those Australians living in the isolated countryside do not have much chance to eat out and certainly do not have many choices if they do.
The Aussie pie is definitely a staple of the working Aussie though and there’s more choices than you could ever imgaine!
Traditionally in Australia, local hotels will sell meals at lunch time and the evenings but they do so between limited times and offer limited choice if any, often all hotels selling the one thing; steak, salad and chips (another lapse over from the British culture!). With such a limited choice to eat out, most Australians outside of the bigger towns cook for themselves but that hasn’t stopped them from seeking diversity and they have returned to some of the traditional foods of the Aborigine.
Although there is now an abundance of better known meats available in Australia, the Aboriginal foods would consist of meat from Kangaroo, Wallaby, Emu and Crocodiles and in many backpacker towns you can tuck into an Aussie BBQ night serving up all of them. Other Aboriginal foods include Flathead fish, which although found all around the country have to be dealt with carefully as they have two poisonous spines on their backs, so be careful if you decide to go catch your own meal!
One of the most famous though it the Witchetty grubs – larvae from Ghost Moths and were once collected for either eating raw or barbecued…although personally I couldn’t bring myself to try them.
When anybody thinks of Australia, they probably think of BBQ – it’s the backbone of the Aussie household and beaches.
BBQs can be found throughout the country at beaches, parks and even some car parks, often free but sometimes coin operated. Although all Australians use BBQs, what they put on it can once again depend on where they live. If they live near the beach or coast they may BBQ shrimp or crab whilst those in the country may BBQ kangaroo or Emu.
Fruit and Vegetables
With it’s amazing tropical climate fruits are readily available in Australia both with perhaps traditional, well known ones like bananas, papaya, mangoes, pears and avocados and more local ones like Tasmanian Cherries and Quandong fruit.
A good variety of veggies are available too whether they are from America, Europe or Asia, they are all there. Vegetarian restaurants seem to have surprisingly become popular in this meat loving country so if you’re diet is swaying that way you’re all covered.
Although it may not be as cheap to eat out in Australia – especially if you’ve just bounced over from Asia, at least in the cities you will have as big a diversity of choices as you would at home and perhaps an even wider one.
Outside of the cities the choices may not be so vast but could certainly be different with many options being unique to Australia, such as crocodile eggs or grubs.