Despite what you might think from Australians depicted in movies, we don’t just eat “shrimp on the barbie”.
For one thing, Shrimp are called Prawns in Australia. And while we do cook them on the barbie (Maybe? I don’t know, I’ve never really been in to prawns), there is so much more to Australian food culture that isn’t shown on the big screen.
Ever since our trip to Australia started getting closer, Rob and I found ourselves craving a few of the vegetarian foods that we once ate on a regular basis but aren’t so easy to find in the USA. Here’s all the Aussie foods that I’m loading up on in the land down under!
Bakeries and take away shops are, in my opinion, one of the best things about Australia. I find it much more difficult to find take away food in the US and the stuff I do find is mostly from chain stores.
In Australia, there are bakeries and take away shops all over the place, especially near parks and beaches. These food shops often have a range of cheap and fast food options like savory pies (often meat, but there are some veggie options too), dim sims, pasties, cheese and vegemite scrolls, and hot chips (which some people take with chicken salt).
There is nothing even remotely close to an Australian pub menu in USA. Pub food is casual way to fill up on carbs while you drink your beer. I’m personally a huge fan of the veggie nachos which can be found at some of my fave pubs in Newtown, but some other common pub foods are steak or schnitzel with chips (fries) and salad, Aussie burgers (a regular burger often with beetroot and/or pineapple on it), and fish & chips.
A lot of pubs in Australia also have pub trivia once a week. We often made a tradition of catching up with friends at the pub on a weeknight to play pub trivia. Good times, good times.
Barbecue and picnic foods
There’s honestly nothing better than having a barbie (slang for barbecue, which Americans would call a grill) in the park on a sunny summers day in Australia.
Barbies and picnics with friends and/or family are one of my favourite Australian traditions. It’s customary for everyone to bring a plate of food, so you’ll usually end up having a sausage sizzle (sausages cooked on the barbecue) plus maybe some burgers and roast chicken (pre-roasted, and often served cold) with sides of Aussie coleslaw, beetroot salad, potato salad, bread rolls, cheese, and dips, and sometimes a cake or slice of some sort.
Speaking of dips, what’s with the tiny range of dips in USA!? All I can find in New York is hummus and guacamole, but in Australia, grocery stores will stock a huge range of dips to dunk your bread and crackers into.
It’s quite common to just have bread and dips as a meal for lunch. Some of my faves are beetroot dip, basil pesto dip, sun-dried tomato dip, capsicum and feta dip, and sweet chilli philly.
While we do have cookies in Australia, the more British form of biscuits are actually more common. Supermarkets will stock a huge range of sweet and savoury biscuits. Arnott’s is the major brand in Australia, who produce the popular Tim Tams, Iced VoVos, Chocolate Royals, Scotch Fingers, Shapes, Jatz and Savoys. I can pretty much guarantee that any Australian would recognise every biscuit I just mentioned.
Cakes, slices, and tarts
Australians are extremely fond of cakes. You probably would have heard of pavlova (a messy cake made of meringue, topped with whipped cream and various fruits including passionfruit, kiwifruit, and strawberries) and you also might know of possibly lamingtons (a sponge cake cut into squares, covered in chocolate icing and rolled in shredded coconut).
Slices and tarts are also super common in Australia. Slices are kind of like a sweet pie with a crust made of crushed biscuits or pastry and topped with a sweet topping. Some common ones are lemon slice, vanilla slice, rocky road slice, passionfruit slice, and custard tart. I’m drooling just thinking about this delicious tarty goodness.
Along with the Australian obsession with “big things” such as the Big Pineapple and the Big Banana (yep, these are for real), we even have a Big Macadamia Nut in the state of Queensland.
Macadamias can be found in everything from salad to sweets – my personal favourites are mango macadamia ice cream and white chocolate macadamia cookies. I’m also a fan of eating them by themselves as they have a consistency close to chocolate.