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Australia - Food and Drink


As part of a multicultural society, Australia has adopted a rich variety of food and drink. Formerly new and foreign delicacies have been transformed into distinctly Australian foods with new ingredients and styles. Some ingenious and wonderful food creations are seen as a result of Australian culinary ingenuity. However, the simpler meals are the ones that are preferred by most Australians.

Australians enjoy foods that support their laid-back lifestyle irrespective of the season. Australian dishes can be enjoyed during a Christmas party at the height of the scorching Australian summer sun or at a local soccer match in the depths of winter. Australians have proudly adopted foreign "food groups" such as the meat pie as their own. Here are a few of the most common Australian dishes.

The Pavlova

Western Chef Herbert Sachse of Perth's Hotel Esplanade was inspired by the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her 1926-1929 tour of Australia. He sought to create a dessert that was as light as the ballerina herself was. It comprised a meringue base topped with fresh fruit and its tangy passion fruit pulp, smothered in a layer of freshly whipped cream. However, the Kiwis have always disputed this and have claimed that there are older versions of this light summer dessert in some New Zealand cookbooks.

Chicko Roll

The Chicko Roll made its NSW debut at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural show in 1951 and Australians have been in love with it ever since. It was invented by Frank McEnroe who was a boilermaker from Bendigo, Vic. This cabbage, carrot, onion, and beef stuffed snack was originally designed as a take-away food for football matches because it was easy to hold the food in one hand and a beer in the other. Inspired by the popular and smaller Chinese spring roll, the Chicko Roll contains no chicken, despite the name.

Meat Pie

Although the great Aussie meat pie is a cultural icon, it was not invented in Australia. Loved by both the young and the old, the Aussie meat pie was sold by vendors on the streets during the early colonial days and the legendary athlete known as the ‘flying pieman’ was one of the most famous vendors. Meat pies are now found all over Australia in sports club canteens, service stations, and gourmet bakeries. The delicacy is now part of the Australian culture. The meat and gravy filled pastry has surely earned its place in Australian hearts. “The Official Great Aussie Pie Competition” has been held in Australia since the 1990s, illustrating Australians’ attachment to the meat pie.

Splice

This was introduced in the 1950's by Streets Ice Cream and quickly developed a cult-like following. Coated in a layer of fruit flavored ice, the unconventional ice cream was part of the beach culture especially during the 70's and 80's. The raspberry version was introduced to complement the pine lime flavor and is still enjoyed by Aussies today.

Lamingtons

The origin of this dish is still in dispute because New Zealand experts claim that they were the first to dip sponge cake in chocolate icing and roll it in desiccated coconut. It is said that in 1900, Lord Lamington of Queensland was served this meal by his chef and after tasting, he requested that the meal be named after him. Lamington is currently found in almost every CWA (Country Women's Association) recipe book and True Blue Bakery in Australia.

Vegemite

A young chemist known as Cyril Callister was commissioned by businessman Fred Walker to develop a spread from used brewers’ yeast after noticing that the yeast was always disposed of despite the fact that it was rich in vitamin B. The final products were named vegemite at a national naming competition. The spread is now part of Australia's breakfast routine and it is one of the most used sandwich spreads.

Sausage Sanger

The Australian people genuinely love the outdoors mostly due to the country’s superb climate. The rise of the portable barbecue has led to the formation of a community fundraising event known as the “sausage sizzle”, an event similar to America's “Weiner Roast”. The invention of the Sausage Sanger can be attributed to the Sausage Sizzle event. The Sausage Sanger is basically a single slice of bread rolled over a sauce-drenched sausage. It is a lunchtime favorite for most Australians. Since the introduction of barbecues in parks by the authorities, the Sausage Sanger can be found almost anywhere.

Weet-Bix

Weet-Bix was first produced in Leichardt, an inner-Sydney suburb, in the 1920s and is now the breakfast of choice in Australia. It was introduced by Benison Osborne as a budget friendly health biscuit that would be an alternative to Sanitarium's “Granose”. Osborne later sold his creation to Sanitarium.

Anzac Biscuits

This was a joint venture between Australians and New Zealanders across the Tasman. It was developed by the womenfolk in military families during the First World War. Initially known as the “soldier biscuit” or the “Anzac tile”, the Anzac Biscuit was made to supplement the Digger bread supply.

Neenish Tarts

The origins of this dish are still shrouded in obscurity. It is said to have been invented by one Mrs. Ruby Neenish. The story goes that Mrs. Ruby Neenish ran out of cocoa for her chocolate icing while she was preparing tarts for kitchen tea. So, she improvised with gelatin to create the bi-colored tart.

Drinks

Bundaberg and XXXX are the most popular drinks in Queensland. VB is quite popular in Victoria and enjoys support from its sibling brew Carlton Draught. Toohey is a popular beer brand in New South Wales. St Agnes Brandy and brews from Coopers are popular in South Australia.

West Australians prefer local wines and Amberley Chenin Blanc. Premium white spirits such as gin and vodka as well as craft beers and flavored cider are becoming popular throughout Australia. The premium end of the market has also started to embrace single malt scotch. The cocktail culture remains a niche market, but none of the professional bartenders have been able to capture the public's imagination with a uniquely concocted local drink.

It is a tradition for Australian families to eat together. According to a recent survey, 77% of Australians have dinner together more than five times a week.


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