Australian cuisine reflects a selection of unique treats, iconic products and traditional recipes, which honours Australia’s wide expanse of tastes. Regardless of some of the questionable collaborations or inventive creations, you will be able to find something to love in this list of the top 10 classic Aussie foods.
The Pavlova is said to be created by Western Australian chef Herbert Sachse of Perth’s hotel Esplanade, in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova’s visit to Australia in the 1920s. The dessert has been claimed by both New Zealand and Australia, as New Zealand swears it holds older recipes. With its light and fluffy texture, wispy meringue base smothered in a layer of whipped cream and fresh fruits on top, it is no wonder this classic dish has stayed at the top among Australia’s food culture.
This square-shaped sponge cake, coated in a layer of chocolate icing and desiccated coconut, is often referred to as the ‘National Cake of Australia’. It is such a classically Australian dish that the National Trust of Queensland named the Lamington as one of Australia’s favourite icons. The cake can also come with cream and jam in the middle in some cafés. This cake is usually served at cafés to accompany coffee and tea or can be found at fairs or fundraisers.
This dish originated in Italy starting from just an eggplant, which in Australia evolved into using chicken as a base. Classically topped with melted cheese, ham and tomato sauce, this meal is the classic pub dish and has been around and popular for many years. These days, some pubs showcase a variety of different parmas including a multitude of toppings and choices to choose from, rather than the standard parma. Some of the best parma pubs include The Exchange in Port Melbourne, The Union Club Hotel in Fitzroy and The Prahran Hotel, which are just a few places you can choose from.
Vegemite is a spread that has become a common icon linked to Australian food. Although popular among Australians, it requires an acquired taste not suited to everyone’s buds. The dark brown paste is made from various vegetables, yeast extract and spice additives. Vegemite was invented by a young chemist, Cyril Callister, and since then Australians have developed an almost nationalistic attachment to their breakfast and sandwich spread and still sing along to ‘Happy Little Vegemites’, an advertising jingle first heard on the wireless in 1954. Many creations have occurred due to this spread such as Vegemite-cheese sandwiches, Vegemite and avocado on toast, Vegemite pizza, and, in Tasmania, Vegemite scrolls.
These biscuits were created during World War I by the women in soldier’s families. The first Anzac biscuits were not the same as we know them today. When first created, it consisted of ingredients including oats, flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup and bi-carbonate of soda – a delicious combination of ingredients which could stand the long journey by ship and road to the trenches. These biscuits were then known as ‘soldier biscuits’ because the structure of the biscuit was very hard to supplement the diggers’ bread supply. These biscuits are now very popular on ANZAC Day.
This much-loved chocolate biscuit is made up of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate filling and coated in melted chocolate. They landed on Australian shelves in the early 1960s. These days, there are an array of flavours and different Tim Tams to choose from. This can range from original flavours such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, or you can mix it up with exciting choices such as red velvet or salted caramel. Another trick to these much-loved biscuits is called the ‘Tim Tam Slam’, which includes biting off opposite corners of the biscuit, dunking it in tea or coffee, sucking the drink up through it and then scarfing the biscuit before it disintegrates.
Kangaroo meat can be found in many supermarkets and on restaurant menus. The meat can be prepared in a number of ways including steaks, burgers, sausages, and much more. Due to an overpopulation of kangaroos, it is safe and not harmful to the species in any way. Kangaroo meat is often cooked rare to medium. It can dry out very quickly, which explains why it is not usually preferred well done. It is also good with a marinade sauce, which adds a bit of spice and can keep it from drying out so as quickly.
Almost every burger in Australia which features the name ‘Oz’ or ‘Aussie burger’ consists of a unique addition of beetroot. Beetroot in burgers is a classical Aussie addition to the American creation. Beetroot slices were introduced in the 1940s to burgers, which has now been an epidemic in Aussie pub culture. It was so popular that McDonalds once added the McOz a few years back on their menu, and Hungry Jacks has the classic ‘Aussie’ burger on their menu, which of course includes the addition of beetroot.
Despite the name, this Aussie version of the popular Chinese spring roll contains no chicken, but it actually contains beef. The Chiko roll was invented by Frank McEnroe, a boilermaker from Bendigo, Victoria, back in 1951, when it made its New South Wales debut at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Show. The Chiko roll also features other ingredients such as vegetables including carrot, cabbage and onion, and possibly more depending on the brands. This Aussie snack can be seen at football matches, as it was invented to only take up one hand while the other holds a stubby (beer).
If you want to experience a real proper Aussie Bush tucker (bush food that is native to Australian land), Witchetty Grub is the best option as it not only tastes good, but it also has a high source of protein – almost as much as a full steak. Witchetty Grub has been consumed by Aborigines for many years due to the good source of nutritional benefits. It is claimed to taste similar to that of chicken with a nutty background spice. It may not be for everyone, but it would be worth a try to experience true native food.