Being an Aussie expat that has lived in the U.S. and Asia, I sometimes get questions about Australian food. In this post, I will make my recommendations for travellers heading Downunder and the four foods I think are worth sampling while you are visiting the Great Southern Land.
Kangaroo is a lean, red meat that can be most closely compared to venison. It isn’t a regular part of most Australian’s diets, though you will notice it in the meat case of larger supermarkets. The meat is slowly gaining popularity as more chefs incorporate it on restaurant menus. If you are going to prepare the kangaroo yourself, I suggest starting with minced meat and substituting it for beef or pork in Spaghetti Bolognese or as Sir James calls it Spaghetti Bolo-Roo! Be prepared for quite a gamey cooking odour, but once served up you will hardly notice the difference. If you are feeling more adventurous, try a steak. As mentioned previously, the meat is low in fat and therefore is quickly overcooked. Only attempt if you are prepared to eat it medium-rare to rare.
There is a disconnection that happens when you try to tell an American that pies are savoury, or try to convince an Australian that pumpkin pie makes a good dessert. Somehow through history Australians retained the British origins of the dish and terminology, while Americans changed it up. So to be clear, when speaking to an Aussie:
“Pie” refers to the pastry filled with minced meat and gravy or alternative savoury filling.
“Tart” is the term used for the equivalent sweet dish.
While meat pies are not an Australian invention, we took to them like ducks to water. Some might even call it our national dish. Australians eat meat pies at sporting matches like Americans consume hotdogs. So ask your nearest Aussie where the best meat pies in town are and they will likely have a recommendation for you.
There are a range of stories on how the first Lamington came to be. Most involve Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896-1901, and a fateful piece of sponge cake dropped in melted chocolate. Whether you believe it was the idea of the maid, the French chef Armand Galland, or Lord Lamington himself, to then roll that chocolate covered sponge in desiccated coconut, is of little consequence now. All you need to know is that Australian’s love the treats enough to have designated July 21st National Lamington Day. Unlike Lord Lamington, who may or may not have referred to them as “those bloody, poofy, woolly biscuits” – what would he know anyway? He was British.
Fairy Bread (one for the kids and kids at heart)
A children’s birthday part classic since the 1920’s, fairy bread is a slice of moist white bread, spread with butter or margarine and covered with coloured sprinkles. This simple delight of every Aussie childhood, is usually served sliced into triangles, although some parents may use cookie cutters to create other shapes. There is only one restaurant in Australia known to serve Fairy Bread, so best be getting yourself invited to a local child’s birthday party, or be prepared to make it yourself.
I hope you enjoy one or more of these uniquely Australian foods while you’re Downunder.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,