It’s hard to fall in love with a country or a city if you can’t enjoy and appreciate the local cuisine. Expats travelling to the land down under needn’t fear though, as Australia’s multicultural society caters to a very diverse palate. There are plenty of eateries and watering holes in every Australian city, as Australians are a very outdoorsy people. Not surprisingly barbecues are also extremely popular across the country. Barbecues are in fact so popular in the country that there are barbecue stations at many parks and beaches that visitors can use.
Australian cuisine is a reflection of its diverse heritage, with indigenous foods like grilled kangaroo and Witchetty grubs gaining acceptance lately, while there is a strong colonial influence with meat pies, steaks and fish ‘n’ chips being some of the most widely consumed dishes.With a huge immigrant population, it isn’t uncommon to find fast-food joints selling every variety of food from Indian and Chinese to Lebanese and Mediterranean too.
Australians love their food and drink and thanks to government initiatives and changing trends in Australia, their affair with food is a rather healthy one. Fresh produce is widely available and the country has traditionally been known for its seafood, meat, poultry and dairy produce. Fish and seafood form an important part of the diet as most of the country’s population inhabits coastal regions. Stir fried and lightly cooked vegetables and salads are also very popular.
In order to be truly ‘Australian’ or to feel a bit more Australian there are certain foods that you absolutely must try:
Every tourist and visitor to the country is advised to sample vegemite, so as an expat, it’s imperative that you do so! This is basically a dark spread that is used on toast or as a sandwich spread. It is made with a brewer’s yeast extract, vegetables, and spices, and its intense flavor may take some getting used to.
Green chicken curry pie
As bizarre and fictitious as this dish may sounds it is very real and in a way epitomizes Australia’s multicultural cuisine. Pies have been popular since colonial times and Thai food is also extremely popular in Australia today. It wasn’t long before someone thought of combining the two, and this is just one such hybrid!
This may not be a dietary staple, but it is widely sold and easily available throughout Australia. The idea of eating kangaroo meat may seem preposterous to some expats, but this isn’t some new-fangled concoction. Aborigines have in fact been consuming Kangaroo meat for centuries and the practice has only begun to catch on in recent decades. It is said to be extremely healthy because the lean meat is extremely fibrous and contains almost no fat.
It’s hard to restrict any seafood recommendations to a single variety of fish or crustaceans, especially when speaking of Australian cuisine, but Balmain bugs do deserve a mention. This is basically a species of slipper lobster that’s found in the coastal waters of Australia. It is only the tail of the fish that contains any edible meat, but just like with lobsters, it’s well worth the trouble!
In addition to these foods, make it a point to try out some other Australian treats like Sydney Rock Oysters, Barramundi, Moreton Bay bugs, Macadamia nuts, pigs in a blanket, ANZAC biscuits and Lamingtons.
Drinking in Australia
As everyone knows, Australians love their beer just as much as they love their food. At 1.25 liters, the Darwin stubby is the world’s largest beer bottle and it comes from Darwin, which incidentally has the country’s highest beer consumption. If you’re looking for ale-like beer, Coopers or James Squire are good options as most beers are cold lagers. There are plenty of microbreweries as well, with many producing world class craft beer, and quite a few specializing in cider too. Australia is also home to numerous wineries, with some of the largest being in the Barossa Valley, in Southern Australia.
Many of these wineries and distilleries are also open to the general public. Coffee has become increasingly popular in Australia, and you can find a great cup of coffee in big cities like Melbourne. However, it’s often advisable to skip the caffeine in smaller towns and cities.
Australians may love their liquor but they’re extremely strict about DUIs, so find out about the local restrictions and always avoid drinking and driving.