15 Foods Aussies Love

5 Nov

Every country has certain foods that are nationally beloved, sometimes to the bafflement of foreigners. Australia is no exception. One might suspect that Australian cuisine isn’t that different from American or British cuisine and that is mostly true. However, there are some dishes that Aussies just can’t seem to get enough of. Some of these things really are very good and deserve their place of honour in Australia, but some other things leave me scratching my head, wondering what’s so great about them.

Meat pie with tomato sauce- a popular snack in Australia

1. Meat pies with chips and tomato sauce

The chips, of course, being French fries and the tomato sauce being better known as ketchup. Aussies LOVE their meat pies. It’s usually made from mince or steak or sometimes some kind of ground up mystery meat that looks and tastes like school cafeteria leftovers, all wrapped up in shortcrust pastry (a heart attack waiting to happen). You can find meat pies everywhere. There’s pretty much no cafe that doesn’t serve them and there are some eateries that are devoted exclusively to the humble meat pie. I really don’t get it. They tend to be pretty bland and uninspiring, but Aussies go nuts over them.

Victoria Bitter – one of Australia’s most popular brands of beer

2. Beer

Aussies love beer, and alcohol in general. Any night of the week, any given pub is usually filled to capacity, the streets filled with drunken louts out having a good time. In fact, Australia is ranked fourth internationally for beer consumption. Specialty beers are also a big thing in Australia and microbreweries have popped up all over the country.

Hot chocolate in a Max Brenner “hug mug”

3. Hot chocolate

In America, most people think of hot chocolate as a winter treat and it’s not something that coffee shop baristas take a lot of orders for. But in Australia, hot chocolate is much more popular and you can order it as a drink just about anywhere. There are even places that specialise in hot chocolate, like San Churro, Max Brenner, and Koko Black. Additionally, Qantas even has a hot chocolate service after dinner on all of its long-haul flights. You know something is popular when an airline gives it a place of honour on the in-flight itinerary. (And by the way, the Qantas hot chocolate is really good.)

Most of Australia’s bananas are grown in Queensland.

4. Banana bread

I never thought much about banana bread (or even made any myself) until I came to Australia. It’s everywhere! Granted, I consider banana bread as a staple coffee shop treat, along with danishes and other pastries, and you do find slices of it in coffee shops here. But you also find it in unexpected places, like gas stations, and every grocery store always has loaves of banana bread for sale.

Make any pizza “Aussie style” by cracking an egg over the top of it before cooking.

5. Eggs

If you’re ever eating out in Australia and you see something on the menu called “Aussie style”, that means it has egg on it. You want an Aussie style hamburger? It’s a normal hamburger with egg on it. You want an Aussie style pizza? It’s a normal pizza with egg on it. Yes, Aussies love their eggs so much that they’ll slap it on anything and call it Aussie style.

Roast lamb is often served with mint sauce, along with vegetables and potatoes.

6. Lamb

Everyone knows sheep farming in big in Australia, so it stands to reason that lamb would be in abundance. Probably owing to their British heritage, Sunday roasts are still popular here. Although in the UK where the choices tend to be limited to chicken or beef, the standard in Australia is roast lamb. Personally, I can’t stand the thought of eating a cute animal, but the Aussies don’t seem to mind at all.

Sausages also provide an opportunity to engage in one of Australia’s most beloved cultural traditions: barbecuing.

7. Snags

That’s Aussie slang for sausages. Usually barbecued (they do love their BBQs), or often as bangers and mash. Also frequently found in sausage rolls, which are similar in taste to meat pies, but a different shape. Yep, Aussies have figured out a bazillion different ways to eat sausages. The baffling thing is that it’s near impossible to find a decent hot dog, which you might expect, being that hot dogs are close cousins to sausages. Sometimes buns are hard to find, too. If you go to a sausage sizzle (a popular type of fundraising event), you’ll likely have your sausage served on a piece of bread instead of a proper bratwurst bun.

Caramel Tim Tams have a strip of caramel through the center. So tasty!

8. Tim Tams

These have a well deserved place in Aussies’ hearts. Tim Tams are so freaking good. Two chocolate cookies sandwiched together with chocolate and coated with more chocolate. And they come in many different varieties from white chocolate to double chocolate to raspberry to caramel to mint and more. Good news for Americans- Target usually carries a couple varieties of Tim Tams, imported direct from Australia, from October to March.

How does this look even remotely appetising?

9. Cherry Ripe

Possibly the most disgusting candy bar ever invented, it’s  the oldest candy bar in Australia and the second most popular (Mars bars are the first). It consists of some kind of mushy cherry stuff with coconut, covered in chocolate. The best adjective that comes to my mind to describe it is “barforama”. There’s no accounting for taste…

An Aussie style parma… yes, that’s an egg on top of it!

10. Parmas

Chicken parmigiana, or just “parma” in the local lingo, is a really big deal Australia. Many restaurants, especially those serving pub fare, having weekly parma nights where you can get any kind of parma imaginable (yes, including Aussie style) on the cheap, usually with a side of chips and a beer. Okay, parmas are edible and sometimes even good, but at the end of the day, it’s just a wad of chicken with some stuff on top of it. What’s so exciting about that?

Many Australians have fond memories of this stuff from childhood.

11. Fairy Bread

Take a piece of white sandwich bread (something along the vein of Wonder Bread- the flimsier, the better) and smear some butter on it. Now sprinkle on some hundreds and thousands (that’s nonpareils for Americans, jazzles for British). Slice it into squares or triangles. Congratulations. You just made fairy bread. No doubt you’re very excited about that and would consider it an acceptable substitute for cake on your birthday. Right? Hey, apparently Australian children go nuts over the stuff.

Vanilla slice with a bit of strawberry jam.

12. Vanilla Slice

Another popular dessert item, you can find it anywhere that offers any type of confections. It’s essentially three layers of pastry filled with cream or custard, often topped with a bit of powdered sugar. Even though it’s French in origin (hence why it is called a Napolean in America), I’ve heard some Australians claim they invented it. The Australian version sometimes includes strawberry jam or sponge cake, but not always.

If you ask nicely, maybe you can swap out the beet for an egg?

13. Beetroot

Like eggs, Australians love to put beetroot on everything. I didn’t even know beetroot was considered an edible source of food until I came to Australia. They’re ery popular here, eaten with just about everything from salads to burgers. If you order a burger with the lot in Australia, expect there to be pickled beetroot on it.  It sort of serves the same purpose as pickles do in America. The main difference is that if you don’t like pickles, you can pick them off and the burger is still mostly okay, but if you try to pick the beetroot off, its flavour will continue to infect the burger.

Aussies love beer so much that they don’t want any of it to go to waste.

14. Vegemite

Vegemite is a brown, salty paste which is produced as a byproduct of beer manufacturing and Aussies love to put it on their toast. In terms of causing hypertension, Vegemite is far more effective than just plain butter. To a non-Aussie, Vegemite looks and tastes disgusting, but it’s a staple for Australians and you’ll find it in just about any random pantry in the country.

Like a latte, but not as frothy.

15. Flat white

The fact that all the coffee places tend to close at 4pm might lead you to think that Australians don’t really love coffee very much, but you’d be wrong. They love coffee almost as much as they love beer and the flat white is a popular choice. It’s very similar to a latte, though not quite the same, as coffee connoisseurs will be quick to point out. You probably won’t find a flat white outside of Australia and New Zealand, much to the frustration of Aussie globe-trotters.

What do you think of these foods, if you’ve tried them? What would you put on this list?

14 Responses to “15 Foods Aussies Love”

  1. Cosette November 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    For a nation that appears to affirm a healthy lifestyle and offers great fresh food, Aussies do love heart-clogging and cheap junk foods.

    Tim Tams have won me over and I also like honeycomb candies, but Cherry Ripe and fairy bread are pretty awful. You’re missing Lamingtons and Pavlova on the list, which are pretty bad as well.

    I like a meat pie from time to time, but I don’t love them and also find them pretty bland and boring. I like lamb, but once in a while. Theo would eat it every night if he could. I enjoy sausages from time to time as well and also wonder where to get a decent hot dog. Eggs and beetroot on everything? No, thanks! I have to pass on the Vegemite as well.

    I dig banana bread generally as well as hot chocolate, but I think the coffee menu is pretty limited in Australia.

    Parma is a tricky one. I used to think it was like chicken parmigiana, but it’s like a grosser version of it. No, thanks.

    • withitalianlove November 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

      I’m not sure if I would call the Australian lifestyle healthy. We value exercise much more highly than many other cultures, but in my opinion, our diet is certainly far from healthy. You’re completely right that so many things on the list are heart-clogging junk foods. (Nonetheless, I still like digging into them as much as any other Australian!)

      • housewifedownunder November 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

        I guess from an American perspective, Australia seems healthier by comparison! I can’t speak for Cosette, but I feel like there are more options for pursuing a healthy lifestyle in Australia than in America. Yes, there’s plenty of junk food and plenty of fat, lazy people, but here, I don’t feel like I’m forced to make unhealthy choices for lack of any real alternative.

        Just to give one example, there are three grocery stories within walking distance of my flat, all connected to my flat via footpaths and pedestrian crosswalks. So, if I’m only getting a few things, I can choose to walk to the store and back. In America, there is one grocery story near my house there and even though it is closer than the stores here are to my flat, I can’t walk to it because there are no footpaths and no crosswalks and I’d be taking my life in my hands trying to cross a busy, main intersection on foot. So I have to drive, even though I might prefer to walk and get some exercise, just to be safe.

    • housewifedownunder November 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      Oh, yes… I forgot about Lamingtons and Pavlova. I never had the former- they look disgusting to me. I did Pavlova once and didn’t think much of it. Edible, but nothing to get excited over and not something I’d want to waste calories on.

      I also forgot macarons, which you see everywhere, but I hate them. They look pretty on the outside, but once you bite into them- yuck!

      • Cosette November 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

        Oh, yes, macarons are everywhere! They are very pretty, but I find the taste totally hit or miss. They can be good if you get a stellar baker, but most of the time, they’re not very good.

  2. Texas Rambler November 6, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I lived in OZ 44 years ago… Things have changed a bit… They still Like meat pies and vegemite. I loved and still love the meat pies… the vegemite… not so much. I can still get really good meat pies at the “The Lone Star Motorcycle Museum” (http://www.lonestarmotorcyclemuseum.com/) near to where I live. The owner is an Aussie. The one thing missing from your list… Fruit cake with icing. They seemed to be really popular way back then… Thanks for the memories…

    • housewifedownunder November 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

      I don’t think I’ve seen fruitcake with icing, but that sounds horrible!

      Some meat pies are okay, but I don’t think I’ll ever fall in love with them. I tend to like the pastry crust more than the filling and pastry crust is a diet disaster! I guess if I’m going to eat that sort of thing, I’d rather have an apple or cherry pie!

  3. brittney November 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Tim Tams!! I’ve only had them a couple of times but only because I’m trying really hard to avoid them. I make Vegemite sandwiches for the kids I look after every morning but still haven’t been bold enough to try it. The smell at 7am is enough to turn me off of it.
    I like this list 🙂 There are a few things on it I haven’t seen yet so I’ll have to keep my eyes open.

    • housewifedownunder November 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

      My rule for Tim Tams is that I will only buy them when they are on sale. That way I only get them once in a while. 😀 Otherwise I’d just pig out on them. Have you tried them refrigerated? I love the original flavour ones refrigerated. I think they taste way better cold. (Though not the other flavours so much.)

      If you get brave enough to try Vegemite, you’ll have to make a blog post about your reaction to it!

  4. Motty November 21, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    After 6 weeks in the US I was so glad to be home. I’m amazed americans can say we eat poorly when I found it near impossible to get something that wasn’t beige in Cali and Hawaii. You’ve gotta eat these foods from the right place, if you get this stuff from the supermarket it WILL taste like crap. If you go to a good bakery or pub you’ll be addicted for life

  5. lynda November 24, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    I am not even an Aussie, but I should be. I love cherry ripes, and when I feel like crap, the first thing I want to eat is a vegemite cheese and lettuce sandwich. Its the only thing that tastes good. Egg and beetroot on your burger is the best! but I can do without the snags…and fairy bread.

  6. currybadger December 6, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    I’m beginning to adapt to the beet roots, but the meat pie thing still confuses me.

  7. Dean September 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Australia lacks a cuisine of its own which is actually a good thing, as favourite foods get changed with each new wave of immigration so we never get bored. Thai was popular last year, now its japanese, and tomorrow it will be korean. While aussie classics like the humble meat pie will always be popular.

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