Typical Australian Fare Australians tend to eat a much bigger breakfast than their European counterparts (and a comparatively smaller lunch and dinner). Breakfast might include toast with jam or vegemite, cereal with milk, muesli, yoghurt, fresh fruit, fruit juice, and tea or coffee.
Lunch usually consists of sandwiches or salads. Most Australians (particularly working Australians) don’t eat a hot lunch. Instead they bring a lunch from home or buy something on the run.
Dinner tends to be the most adventurous meal for many Australians, with a wide range of foods being eaten all over the country. An old favourite is ‘meat and two’ (a piece of meat and two types of vegetables) but newer additions to the dining room table might include pasta, laksa, noodles, stir-fry, risotto, lasagna or grilled fish.
Traditional Foods TAlthough Australia’s food scene is becoming more exotic and innovative every day, there are still some old favourites that, it seems, will never fall out of fashion:
Vegemite: an extremely salty spread made out of yeast, which is popular on sandwiches and toast. Many people say it’s a taste you have to grow up with in order to like it.
Lamington: a type of cake. A square of sponge cake (sometimes with cream in the middle) is dipped in chocolate and then rolled in coconut. Absolutely delicious.
Anzac biscuit: a biscuit made from rolled oats, coconut and golden syrup. These biscuits were created during the First World War.
Pavlova: a type of dessert. A meringue base is filled with cream and fruit salad.
Sunday Roast: okay, so this is more of an event than an actual food product! The Sunday Roast is an Australian institution, consisting of meat (usually lamb) and roasted vegetables, potatoes and gravy. Although it’s never made much sense in summer, it’s a wonderful way to end the week and a tradition for many families.
Australian Cuisine Australia is becoming increasingly well known for its excellent food. The innovative chefs that work in our best restaurants and the amazing quality of the ingredients that they use go some way towards this reputation, as does the huge scope for creative flavour that comes from having unique herbs, spices and animals, as well as a thriving multicultural community.
Eating Out in Australia: The Essentials
There are a few guidelines to remember when eating out in Australia:
BYO: ‘Bring Your Own’ basically means that you can buy a bottle of wine or beer and bring it to the restaurant yourself, rather than ordering from their wine menu. Corkage is charged per person, but it’s usually only a couple of dollars a head, making BYO a much cheaper option.
Smoking: Is no longer permitted inside Australian restaurants. Some restaurants that have outdoor seating may have a designated smoking area, so if you want to smoke you should ask to be seated in this area.
Tipping: Tipping is not required at Australian restaurants but it is good manners to tip 10% if the service has genuinely been excellent. Check the receipt, however, as some restaurants will include a service charge (particularly on weekends and public holidays) and this takes the place of the tip.
Cheap Eats Just because Australia’s food is so delicious doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune. In fact, some of Australia’s most iconic and widely loved food is cheap as chips. If you haven’t got heaps of money but you still want to eat well, don’t worry. Food is not costly and because the ingredients are so fresh and easy to find, its easy to make something delicious even in a hostel kitchen.
The best place to start (and probably the cheapest) is the supermarket. There are plenty of supermarkets which offer (thanks to Australia’s multiculturalism) a huge range of different foods. The fruit on offer is fresh and delicious, and thankfully, not too expensive.
Another potential goldmine for starving backpackers is the local bakery or delicatessen. Bread is cheap and if you’re only buying small quantities of meat, you can have a round of sandwiches for just a couple of dollars a head.
Meat pies are an Australian essential and the good news is that as cultural experiences go, this one won’t break the bank. You can get a meat pie from almost any takeaway shop and most bakeries sell them too. For under $3-4 (Australian) you’ll get a delicious flaky crust filled with hot meat and gravy. Don’t think too hard about what’s in it; just enjoy the experience.
If you’re feeding a few and it’s a beautiful day, you could head down to the nearest park or beach and fire up the barbecue. Meat from the butcher is good quality and not too expensive, and the most you’ll pay for the privilege of using the public barbecue is a couple of dollars. One Aussie classic you shouldn’t miss is the sausage sandwich: a piece of white bread, buttered, wrapped around a piping hot sausage, topped off with barbecued onions and lashings of tomato sauce. Yum.
If you really can’t be bothered cooking, head down to the beach for fish and chips. Most beaches have at least one place that sells this delicious, flaky, battered, salty meal. And if they don’t, they should!
If you’re after variety, try a food hall. They can be found in all big cities and shopping centres, and are an affordable place to get a good meal. A filling lunch (including a soft drink) will probably set you back about $10.
Multicultural food is not expensive either. Italian staples like pasta and pizza are everywhere, and both Melbourne and Sydney have more Thai restaurants than you can count. Unlike many European cities, Asian food is extremely cheap here because of the volume of immigration from Asia. For example, lunch for two in a no-nonsense city noodle bar will fill you up and leave you with change from a 20 dollar note.
Eating in a pub can also get you great value. The food is usually filling, fast and fresh, and (bonus!) often includes a free drink. If you’re after haute cuisine, maybe a counter lunch isn’t for you, but the basic options (such as shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, steak, lasagna and a vegetarian option) are delicious and affordable.
Learn To Cook Down Under There are plenty of ways to get a feel for Australian food and cooking (such as eating it!) but one of the best has got to be a cooking school. There are plenty of schools offering tuition in all different styles of cooking, all of which will hopefully give any aspiring chefs a feel for Australian flavours.
Modern Australian Cuisine Modern Australian Cuisine is a fairly general term that’s applied to, well, modern Australian cooking. What distinguishes Modern Australian food from traditional Australian food is the influence of the immigrant population. This influence is so great that Australian food is now, by turns, Asian, European, African, Middle Easter: pick a region and you’ll find traces of its flavours on the menu of at least one fancy restaurant.
Tucked away into some of Australia’s prettiest countryside are a smattering of gourmet retreats: holiday destinations designed around food. Usually gourmet retreats are run by food lovers and cater to small numbers of like minded people at a time. They tend to be found in the winegrowing regions of Australia.