The first country that I’m going to virtually transport you to is Australia and not just because it begins with the letter ‘A’ and that’s an easy place to start (although that does have a little to do with the choice because I can be pretty darn methodical when I want to and yes I have a list, which is of course alphabetical AND YES there ‘might’ have been some highlighter use!) but mostly I’ve chosen it because it’s a place that has very sentimental memories for me. If you haven’t read about my time here then feel free to check out this much older post for a bit of background, as I don’t want to repeat myself for the sake of my hardcore blog followers. If such a person or people actually exist! So onto Australian food…
So imagine that we’re the other side of the World and it’s hot, well actually not all of the time in all of the Country because it’s massive you know! 7,692,024 square kilometres to be precise! To give you an idea here’s Australia in comparison to the whole of Europe…
Anyway, I stray from the topic that I’m supposed to be discussing… food of course, food in Australia to be precise. Personally when I think of Australia and my own foodie experience there, these are the things that pop into my head (keep in mind that I was 18 years old when I first went over there for my gap year, so a culinary journey it was not!) I think of potato wedges served with lashings of sweet chilli sauce and sour cream that would often accompany a schooner (or ten) of VB (Victoria Bitter) at the bar local to the flat where we lived in Sydney. I think of the best calamari I’ve ever tasted which is served in every fish and chip shop you come across. I remember tucking into chiko rolls and dim sims at the end of a night out from the only take away places that were still open at 4 in the morning! I remember a place I worked at in Bondi where my boss used to bring me a latte and pineapple doughnut every morning (is it any wonder I came back two stone heavier!). I’ve never had a pineapple doughnut since but I might make it my mission to find one now, or maybe even make one!
We were spoiled on Christmas day by a guy we knew who threw a big party and cooked us Lobster on the BBQ (a bit different from the traditional roast turkey and trimming’s that we were used to, but it was fabulous all the same). I also have memories of Italian and Thai food, two types of food they do very well out there and when we were feeling flush used to treat ourselves to a meal out. On a backpacker budget we also catered for ourselves quite a bit, with my most favourite ‘go to lunch’ being cheese, avocado and tomato sandwiches. Not in anyway exclusive to Australia but it makes me think of the place and some fond memories of the crazy lot we lived with in that mad flat every time I have one over here. Food can do that, can’t it. Transport you to a time, a place, a memory of being with someone in particular. It’s like music but instead of hearing a note you smell a scent or taste a familiar taste. It can be magical and that’s one of the things I love about it. I’ve been back to Australia four times since the big year out trip and I’ve discovered that they do a lot of food from all around the world very, very well. They have easy access to many wonderful ingredients and an endless supply of fresh seafood which lends itself to some seriously tasty delights. I’ve had some melt in your mouth steaks, both beef and kangaroo which have never been matched at home and I’ve been introduced to the famous Aussie meat pies, which certainly hit the spot after a good night out!
I also learned that the Pavlova is controversially declared by some as a traditional Australian dessert. However, most New Zealanders would apparently also like to claim this dish as theirs, so I’m not going to say either way. I mean I’m a mere brit, what do I know?! What I might do though is make a few portions of it to sell to my customers with a sweet tooth… anyone fancy that?
So in summary with Australia not having the history we do I think it is fair to say that the food they serve overall isn’t exclusively Australian and when I was searching for a national dish there wasn’t an out and out voted winner from all of the Australians I asked but if you’re thinking of a trip over there I can tell you that in Australia they do celebrate food well and what you do get to eat will mostly be pretty flippin’ good!
I thought it would be a bit of fun if I quizzed some friends of mine from Australia, so I picked my very close pals Jody (a special gal who I met in Australia in 1999 on my travels, although she in English too but has lived in Australia for 12 years with her now Australian husband) and Kon (Jody’s lovely husband). This is what I asked and how they responded:
Where were you brought up in Oz?
Is there a meal that is more traditional for the state you were brought up in or where you live now?
No not really.
What’s your favourite traditional Australian meal?
What would your parents / grandparents class as a traditional Australian meal if different to what you said?
Most Australians are only 3rd generation so a lot of traditional meals would be home country traditional meals eg italian, greek etc
What’s your favourite food across the globe?
Italian Christmas dinner roast with all the trimmings or a great Ozzie BBQ?
Xmas dinner because it is xmas.
What’s your favourite meal in Australia that you either wouldn’t get or wouldn’t be as good back in the UK?
I can’t think! There is nothing I like here that I can’t get in uk / I prefer the food
In uk to be honest!
Are there any foods that you miss from the UK that you can’t get in Australia?
I miss our fish and chip shops and Indian curry – just not as good.
I missed the uk vegetarian range but Australia are now bringing more ranges into the supermarkets for veggies.
When you think of a traditional Australian meal what is it?
BBQ – meat/ fish and seafood
Christmas dinner roast with all the trimmings or a great Ozzie BBQ?
Christmas roast dinner! Can’t beat it.
Now, as we near the time where you’re probably wondering when this blog post is going to end I’d better tell you about the meal I’ve picked to make and sell portions of to those local to me… it was the overall voted dish when I was doing my research, and it is the Australian Meat Pie! I’ve never made a proper pie as such, just a dish with a pastry topper before so this was potentially a challenge, however I have to say that I was so pleased with the test pies that I went on to make 25 to start filling the new freezer I bought. This includes a few dairy free and some meat free too. Actually, there’s a little story behind this that I must share as honesty is the best policy… I have to admit that I thought I was making a vegan option until I worked through my ingredients and as I was filling in my allergy sheets realised that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, who knew?! Probably all the veggies and vegans I guess! Anyway, I live and learn and these pies will at least be suitable for any non-meat eaters that still treat themselves to fish. Phew! I’ll be selling the pies with optional sides of creamy mash and minted pea puree so if you live locally to me then please visit my Facebook page and watch for my post declaring the start of the sale. It will be this week!