A contemporary Australian menu is the result of a collision of cuisines from around the world
Over the years, Australian cuisine has embraced a unique food culture that takes its inspiration from all around the world. The food scene in Australia is unpretentious and a reflection of the relatively young country that is culturally diverse. It is a melting pot of indigenous people and a migrant population and the cuisine is a combination of native ingredients and cooking influences, techniques and tastes from South East Asian, Italian, British and American cuisines, to name a few. With such an enormous appetite for dishes from around the world, Australian diners usually make for adventurous eaters.
The native people of the country consume a cuisine based on foraging called 'bush tucker' that includes the meat of animals such as crocodile, kangaroo and barramundi, and plants such as bush tomatoes, and macadamia nuts, while a modern Australian menu would consist of Thai curries, meat pies, pasta and laksa, all served beside one another. It would be safe to define Australian cuisine as dishes that have been inspired by a number of countries, which combine a variety of ingredients in a delicious package. The fact that the cuisine is not typical and does not have boundaries is what makes it truly exciting.
A well-known fact is that Australians are fond of eating outdoors, making the barbecue, or barbie as it is fondly called, a characteristic meal. Barbecue facilities are readily available at parks, beaches and homes. BBQs are also a popular social activity and the menu usually consists of sausages, burgers, steak, seafood and bread. Throw another shrimp on the barbie, is a quote synonymous with Australian culture, even though the word prawn is more prevalent.
A Kangaroo meat speciality
The meat of the national animal of the country, Kangaroo, is also commonly available in restaurants and supermarkets. It is a lean red meat, thereby a healthier alternative to beef, and is commonly consumed as steaks, burgers and sausages, among others.
Here's a look at some dishes that have become a staple in the country:
Referred to as the 'National Cake of Australia', the dessert is thought to be named after Lord Lamington, a former Governor of Queensland. Lamington is a square-shaped sweet sponge cake with a jam filling that is dipped in chocolate and coated in coconut. It sometimes comes in two halves with a layer of either cream or jam in the middle. The cake is perfectly paired with coffee and is a popular evening snack. The dish is so loved that July 21 is celebrated as 'National Lamington Day.' Try it at Jones The Grocer - Dusit Thani Dubai, Trade Centre Area, 04 3174457.
This dessert is a serious bone of contention between Australia and neighbouring New Zealand, as both the countries claim to have invented it. According to lore, the dish was created to honour Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova's visit during her Australasia tour in the 1920s. The light dessert has a meringue base smothered in a layer of whipped cream and topped with fruits such as strawberries or kiwis. It has a crisp crust and a soft inside that melts in the mouth. Indulge in this decadent dessert at Social House at The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, 04 3398640.
A staple dish, the flaky package is on the menu at restaurants, parties and sporting events. The pastry case is stuffed with ground beef, gravy and covered with tomato sauce, and is mainly consumed as takeaway food. The pies are usually served on a bed of mashed potatoes that gives the dish the name 'pie floater'. These savoury pies can also be stuffed with mushrooms, onions and cheese. A popular variation of the dish is the 'Green chicken curry pie'. Aussies are particularly fond of Thai food and adding an Asian twist makes the staple even more appetising. Bite into the traditional Aussie beef pie at Bidi Bondi, located in the Shoreline Apartments, Palm Jumeirah, 04 4270515.
The beverage was invented in Australia and now appears on café menus all around the world. The country's coffee culture is said to be one of the most vibrant with visits to independent coffee stores being an integral part of daily life. It is said that Greek and Italian migrants brought coffee to the shores of the country and made the beverage immensely popular. The Flat White was apparently developed here in the 1980s and has become a well-known espresso beverage. A flat white has an equal ratio of steamed milk and espresso, and is a bit different from latte as it is less milky with less foam, and usually served in ceramic ware. Take a sip of this brew at Costa Coffee stores located all across Dubai.
This dish has apparently been inspired by Chinese spring rolls. The large deep-fried snack is stuffed with beef and veggies such as celery, cabbage, carrots, onions, green beans and a variety of spices. The rolls are generally eaten on the go and served by local snack vendors. Reportedly, the dish was designed as takeaway food for football matches. The idea was to create a snack that could be held in one hand, while the other would hold a soft drink. This snack is popular all across Australia but is yet to make an appearance in Dubai.