In a land as large and diverse as Australia there’s a lot of local grub to explore. From delicious seafood to more unusual offerings such as reptilian meat and the nation’s national animal (more on that later) you’re likely to encounter just a few flavours that may come as something of a surprise. Here’s a few choice food and drinks from the Land Down Under for you to get your head around.
This one is actually popular the world over, where it goes under several different names. It is a dark brown food paste made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives added. From that description it sounds quite revolting, but spread on toast with a layer of butter, we can assure you it’s rather delicious and a very popular savoury snack in both Australia and the UK. In Britain it goes under the name of Marmite (where the advertising campaign makes a play that you’ll either ‘love it or hate it’), but Australian’s swear that Vegemite has a superior recipe.
Although the sight of these may make you feel a little queasy – they are large, white, wood-eating maggots – the taste is quite delicious, with a nutty-flavour bite making them the snack of choice for Aboriginal Australians for centuries!
This square-shaped sponge cake, coated in a layer of chocolate icing and coconut shavings, is often referred to as the ‘national dessert’ of Australia. The National Trust of Queensland even named it one of Australia’s ‘favourite icons’. You’ll find it in most cafes and is the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee – it’s definitely for those with a sweet tooth.
These are what the Australian’s call English-style sausages and come in two varieties; thin snags that resemble those of a traditional English breakfast and thick, known as ‘Merryland’ in South Australia that are barbecued. The meats typically used in snags can vary, with pork, beef and chicken popular but more recently gamey meats such as kangaroo have been turned into snags, representing a lower-fat option. A snag stuffed into a roll and coated in your favourite sauce is a real Australian staple and you’ll find these on barbecues up and down the country.
Australian’s make no hesitation of eating the country’s national animal. It is produced in the wild and is becoming rather popular worldwide; as of 2010 it was exported to over 55 countries. Another staple of the indigenous Australians, kangaroo is high in protein and low in fat and most popularly served in its simplest form as a steak, or in snags.
Ok, this one isn’t unique to Australia, but thanks to the film Crocodile Dundee, it’s the number one country in the world associated with the reptilian meat. Although considered something of a delicacy and not widely eaten, it’s a tasty, succulent white meat that is low in fat and high in protein. It’s most popularly marinated in a simple sauce as the flavour is delicate, cooked, and served on skewers or as steak. Similar in appearance and taste to chicken, it’s really quite delicious!
This sickly sweet sugary treat from Nestle is a favourite Australian food made up of chewy caramel coated in milk chocolate. It’s known for its distinctive wrapping; it’s yellow and blue and scribed with movie trivia, making it a popular sweet to suck on whilst watching a film.
Yes, we know. This is neither unique nor particularly strange, but the rate at which Australian’s consume beer and its stronger equivalent lager, definitely deserves a mention and some of the drinking games they delight in indulging in is definitely a bit weird. Australian’s love of a ‘cold one’ served up in a ‘stubby’, a short glass bottle designed to be consumed rapidly to prevent the liquid inside reaching room temperature, is known far beyond its glistening shores. Brands that have been successfully exported include ‘Fosters’ and ‘XXX’ lager, which you’ll find in many a pub in Britain.
This is a very popular Australian energy drink marketed at a masculine audience. Although there’s nothing outwardly strange about a lemon flavoured soft drink, just take a look at some of their TV adverts and you’ll understand why it’s got an inclusion. There are currently six variants of the soft drink, the latest one of which contains guarana and caffeine for even more ‘energy’. Why on earth you’d want this on top of a fizzy drink that is already 50% sugar is beyond us, but it continues to sell in droves nonetheless.
Lastly, we come to the Peach Melba. This glorious dessert creation isn’t actually Australian at all; it was invented by legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel, London, in 1892 to honour the Australian soprano, Nellie Melba. A dessert of peaches and raspberry sauce served on a bed of vanilla ice cream, you’d be hard pushed to find this dessert served properly anywhere other than a fine dining restaurant, but it’s worth seeking out, and when you find it, you won’t be disappointed.