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When talking about Australia, people usually talk about the stunning scenery, the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, sprawling metropoles like Sydney and Melbourne, unique wildlife like kangaroos and koalas – but you don’t hear a lot about the food.
Which is totally unjustified, since Australia’s cuisine doesn’t have to hide behind world famous cuisines like Thai or Indian. Let me introduce you to some of the best dishes and drinks that Australia has to offer and that you should try when visiting Down Under. I promise you’ll be hungry by the end of the article:
1 Kangaroo Steak
Some people are put off by eating the cute kangaroos that you can see hopping around the outback, but then those you find served in a restaurant are bred to be eaten- not much different from horses in Italy or cattle in Argentina. Most people love kangaroo meat and for Australians eating ‘roo’ is no different than eating chicken.
You’ll find kangaroo in all sorts of foods, from roo steak to roo as a pizza topping. Kangaroo meat is not only delicious but also the leanest meat!
Other popular game in Australia: Emu and crocodile meat.
2 Australian Wine
Australian wine has long had a fantastic reputation way beyond the borders of Down Under, and if you love a glass of Shiraz, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia, then trust me: you’ll love drinking it right where it’s grown even more than the exported stuff. There are many wineries throughout the continent that do not export their wines, but are well worth a visit, and the Winery Explorer app makes it super easy to find wineries near you, which comes in especially handy when you’re road tripping around Oz. If you are into wine, a visit to an Australian winery is a must!
3 Australian beer
Australia was voted the nation with the 4th highest beer consumption per head, after the Czech Republic, Ireland and Germany, and the oldest brewery was established in 1824 in Tasmania. Yes, Australia is a huge beer drinking country! Beer is by far the most popular alcoholic drink in the nation – but if you think they’re all about Foster’s, you’re wrong! Foster’s might be the best selling Australian beer outside of Oz, but within the country, Coopers Sparking and Pale Ale, James Boag’s Premium Lager, James Squires, Cascade Premium, Pure Blonde and Bluetongue Premium Lager are the brands that are consumed the most. Micro-breweries have also seen a huge growth in recent years and can be found in most towns, for example the Mountain Goat Brewery in Melbourne, which has become so popular that is exporting its brews all the way to the U.S.! About 95 per cent (!) of the produced beer is lager, by the way – the remaining 5 per cent are dark beers and stouts. To find the best Aussie beers of the region your traveling in, just head to the next Bottle-O to see their selection of local brews and national beers.
Ah, Vegemite! You either love it or you hate, just as its cousin marmite from the UK which resembles a big similarity to Vegemite.
I have to admit that I belong to the group of people who can’t stand it but I have a ton of Australian friends who love it so much that they always carry a little jar of it while traveling abroad, and I also know converted vege-lovers from other countries who became strangely addicted to the stuff while traveling Down Under.
But what is it? Vegemite is a bread spread of a dark brown color, made of a byproduct of beer brewing – yeast extract, which is then spiced up with vegetables and other spices. These days, you don’t only find the flavor as a bread spread but also as a chips flavor, a filling in pies, and much more. You’ll probably not love it at first bite, but if you give it a try a couple of times you’ll find that it grows on you.. But careful- it can be addictive!
From bitter to sweet- Lamingtons are a hugely popular dessert in Australia, sold in most bakeries and coffee shops around the country. The simple cake dish is made of a cube-shaped sponge cake that is covered in chocolate, and coconut sprinkled over the top. Sometimes they have an added layer of deliciousness: a layer of strawberry jam or cream I the middle. Once you’ve tried one, it’ll be hard to order your coffee without getting a Lamington with it!
Australia had two other famous pastries you’ll come across over and over again, by the way, and both are well worth trying, too: the Pavlova and Anzac biscuits. Both are subject of the debate between New Zealand and Australia over who actually created them, but they are as much of an Aussie staple as they are a New Zealand favorite. Anzac biscuits are named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who received them during World War II, Pavlova is a dessert that is named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova – a meringue shell (made from corn flour) – a hard crust on the outside, but soft on the inside – topped with with fruit and whipped cream.
6 Meat pies
While Oz is in no position to call the meat pie their own invention, you can’t go to Australia and NOT have a meat pie. Here, they have a status of a national dish and can literally be found everywhere. It is almost impossible to travel across Australia and not have a meat pie. They are very similar to British meat pies (also known as pasties), made of flaky dough and filled with minced meat and a yummy gravy, and you’ll find variations with mushrooms, cheese or onions. It’s the most popular to-go snack and you’ll probably end up eating lots of them while you’re in Australia.
Have you been to Australia? What are your favorite foods and drinks from Down Under?