As you gear up for Australia Day 2017 let’s look at some of the foods and drinks that have defined our nation over the years. This is the go-to Aussie guide to grub, tucker and grog including plenty of history on Australia’s most popular food icons.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing on Australia Day, whether you’re heading to the rubbidy dub (pub), getting a few tinnies from the bottle-o, having a game of backyard cricket, or simply having a good ol’ fashioned barby with your mates, make sure you’re well equipped eat and drink well.
Before tucking in to a snag and a beer on the 26th, take a moment to pay respect to the first and only true land owners of our great nation, our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Without them, there is no Australia.
The culinary landscape of Australia is varied and the question remains, are some of the items we popularly and summarily assume to be Australian actually that dinkey di?
How much have we borrowed, modified, or appropriated as our own?
Below we take a look at 30 iconic ‘Australian’ foods and drinks and rate them out of 10 on the Australiana scale.
Note: Only traditional native Australian foods on this list have been awarded a perfect 10.
Let’s be honest, we’re probably the only nation that eats the animal on our own coat of arms. In fact, we eat both of them.
Indigenous Australian’s have been eating Kangaroo for over 40,000 years, and for good reason too. Kangaroo meat is extremely lean with an average fat content of only 2% so it’s perfect for keeping a solid budgie-smuggler’s physique.
From an environmental standpoint, it’s also one of the most sustainable options a carnivorous Aussie can make as Kangaroos are well recognised fornicators and it’s easy for populations to spiral out of control.
Just last week a male kangaroo thought to be cradling his dead partner was actually just really horny, according to an Australian wild life expert, Dr Mark Eldridge.
Where to find? Check out Sustainable Table for ethical meat suppliers in your area
Dick Smith said of Heinz when they started advertising a new breed of ‘tomato ketchup’, “they don’t give a stuff about Australian culture or our way of life.”
And if you want the definitive answer on what is Australian and bullsh*t overseas tripe, just ask Dick Smith.
He’s right in a sense though, Australia has always been a nation that has called the red stuff ‘dead horse’ or ‘tomato sauce’.We absolutely adore the stuff.
Real connoisseurs of dead horse will put it on everything from sausages to pies, steak, salads, even on foods that are already at least 90% tomato like spaghetti Bolognese or Lasagne.
All Australians know that Ketchup is just saccharine American rubbish. It’s for fries, not chips. It’s for hot dawgs, not potato cakes. But is there actually any difference between the two condiments though?
Or are we just afraid that it might damage our national lexicon? The answer to both of those questions is yes.
Where to find it? All over Australia at every event, at all times.
As a matter of fact I’ve got it now.
It’s near impossible to reach the ozzie-ozzie-ozzie-oy-oy-oy factor of Victoria Bitter.
VB became popular in the 60’s when one of the most iconic advertising campaigns in Australia’s history changed the beer landscape forever. So effective was this ad that it still runs to this day.
The TV commercials that depict simple, hard-working Australians (well, Australian men) working up thirst really resonates with the working class.
In what can only be described as a genius stroke of copywriting, one of the most familiar Aussie catchphrases was born: “For a hard earned thirst, you need a big cold beer, and the best cold beer is Vic, Victoria Bitter.”
But the most Australian part of VB is when Carlton & United Breweries tried to turn VB into a fancy beer. In a classic case of “if it aint broke, fiddle with it and break it”, some spud in the Marketing department thought it would be a great idea to change the slogan to “VB – The Drinking Beer” and reduce the alcohol content. Nah-ah. Nope. F*ck no.
In what can only be described as a rambunctious groundswell of blatant dissatisfaction by dedicated VB drinkers, the company was forced to back peddle, returning the beer back to the strong, alcoholic, and piss-tasting former self.
A notable mention to XXXX, which is VB’s norther counterpart.
Where to find it? Every rubbidy dub in Victoria and most rubbidy dubs Australia wide.
The scientific name for the common yabby is ‘Cherax Destructor’. Isn’t that just awesome? I mean who named them that? A psy-trance DJ? A transformer? Kylo Ren?
Regardless of the obtuse designation this is the most widespread Australian Crayfish, occurring in freshwater streams, dams and water holes from Victoria to Queensland.
They’re also popular in Aussie cooking pots.
Where to find them? Nature! Check out this guide on how to catch and cook yabbies.
The story goes that Anzac biscuits were sent from the wives of Australian and New Zealand soldiers abroad during World War 1, and because the hardy ingredients did not spoil easily, they made the perfect sweet snack to ship long distance.
The ANZAC biscuit – rolled oats, coconut, sugar, butter and golden syrup – must have been a huge morale boost for the troops.
Over 100 years later this classic biccie is part of almost every Australian baker’s repertoire, and is available widely as a commercial product in supermarkets.
They’re bloody delicious and pretty darn Australian. Although they’re also pretty New Zealand…
Where to find them? Grandma’s cupboard!
The Pavlova – a meringue cake topped with fruit – was developed some time in the early 20th century and is named after Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.
Its origins are unclear, with Australian’s claiming it as theirs, New Zealander’s adamant that it belongs to them, and some weird American conspiracy theorists positing it’s a US interpretation of a German dish.
Sure it’s popular in Australia, but with so many ownership claims and very little evidence to support any of them, it can’t be cemented as an exclusively Australian food.
Where to find them? On a trestle table at your local bowls club, or deconstructed in a Riedel wine glass for $30 bucks somewhere
These ubiquitous wheat biscuits are part of the tapestry of the Australian breakfast. Developed by Bennison Osborne in Sydney back in the 1920s, this cereal is a cross-generational icon.
No doubt advertising played a large part in the success of Weet Bix with the resonant catchphrase, ‘Aussie Kids are Weet Bix Kids’ popularising the brand.
However, New Zealand also had the same catchphrase, “New Zealand Kids are Weet Bix Kids’ and the product is popular in South Africa.
Produced by Sanitarium (wholly owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church) whose headquarters are in Auckland, it’s impossible to argue that Weet-Bix are as Australian as they used to be, despite our Australian sporting heroes telling us so.
Where to find them? Brett Lee’s house.
Cubes of soft sponge with a jam filling coated in chocolate and rolled in coconut. These bad boys are absolutely, unequivocally,
Named after Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland (1896-1901), or his wife, they were first served in Toowoomba.
A lunchbox staple for decades, if you’re yet to try a Lamington, you absolutely need too.
Where to find them? Country bakeries and school fetes.
Having been lucky enough to try these when in the Northern Territory, they really are quite something. These plump wood-eating larvae of the cossid moth are a popular foodstuff of Indigenous Australian’s.
The name witchetty grub comes from Adnyamathanha, an Australian Aboriginal Language, and refers to the diet of the cossid moth which feeds on the roots of Wanderrie Wattle (Witchetty Bush).
With a rich, nutty flavour, they can be eaten either raw or cooked.
Where to find them? Seek out an experienced Indigenous guide
This is a British savoury snack of puff pastry filled with seasoned meat. Coming in the elongated meal sized form, or in the small ‘party’ variety, they taste unreal with a splurt (made up Australianism) of some dead horse (tomato sauce).
Colloquially referred to as ‘sosso rolls’, their frequent appearance on tuckshop menus adds relevancy to their Australian-ness, though aside from this they’re not really that Australian.
Where to find them? Try Sweet Envy in Hobart, Jocelyn’s Provisions in Brisbane, Silo Bakeryin Canberra, Tuck Shop Café Perth, Red Door Bakery in Adelaide, Flour and Stone Sydney, and Candied Bakery in Melbourne.
The leg of lamb is part of the long standing Australian tradition of the Sunday roast, borrowed from the Brits and Irish.
Served with gravy and roast veggies, the Sunday Roast used to be an integral part of family dining norms – it was a special meal, a luxurious and opulent treat to be shared with family.
The roast is still popular, but not to the same extent. And despite crude advertisements ramming Lamb down our throats as the Australian meat to eat, we actually eat three times as much beef.
Where to find it? Everywhere. Try Stephanie Alexander’s slow roasted lamb with lemon, garlic and rosemary
The tradition of Fish n’ Chips was again pilfered from our UK mates. That being said, who wants to sit on grey pebbles getting rained on, eating slabs of greasy cod doused in vinegar from the ‘chipper’?
Mate! Wait till it’s a balmy 30 degrees, get your hands on some lightly battered Flatty (flathead) tails and head town to the water’s edge to take in the transitioning orange and magenta hues of sunset. Now that’s Fish N’ Chips!
Where to find it? Pretty much everywhere, but you can’t beat the Australian coast for aesthetics and freshness!
Leftover brewer’s yeast spread on your toast, it’s that f*cking Australian cobber!
Quite simply put, this is thecommercial foodstuff that perfectly summates the Australian food ethos. That ethos being: if you don’t like it, why the hell not?
It’s salty, slightly bitter and heavy on the malt and widely hated by pretty much everyone outside Australia.
To us, this spread holds a certain gravitas. An accidental hero of happiness. It’s a food, it’s a familiar jar, and it’s a rite of passage. It’s an entire childhood of memories. It’s ours. Or is it?
Vegemite is owned by an American company, Mondelēz International, and for that reason it loses points. Try AussieMite, an Australian made and owned alternative.
Where to find it? In between two slices of white bread, in almost every Australian kid’s lunchbox
It’s a mix of climate, our laissez-faire approach to things, and the quality of our produce that make barbies (barbeques) so appealing. Australians consume40.9kg of red meat per person, per annum.
What could be better on a warm Summer evening than sparking up the Webber and roasting some processed meat sticks to blackened perfection?
A snag in a slice of white bread with good lash of dead horse pangs of nostalgia, excitement or both.
The sausage sizzle has been a mainstay at sporting events, fundraisers and hardware shop car parks for who knows how long. But with so many high quality sausage options available these days, it’s high time we embraced our local producers.
Swap out the Woolies special for a juicy organic beef, it’ll taste better and you’ll be putting dollars into the pockets of hard-working butchers.
This company is responsible for some of the most iconic biscuits in Australian history. Think Iced Vo-Vo’s, Tim Tams, and Wagon Wheel’s.
Since 1865 they’ve been banging out classics that have been dunked in many a cuppa at morning tea time.
Like many Australian brands, they’re now owned by an American parent company though they’ve kept manufacturing within Australia so that’s a plus.
Where to find them? The proverbial biscuit tin.
Many say it tastes like chicken. Many say that any white fleshed meat tastes like chicken. It doesn’t taste like chicken, it tastes like Crocodile. What does Crocodile taste like?
Slightly tough in texture, with the faintest of fish undertones, it’s more like Frog than Chicken. That said it’s more like Crocodile than frog.
Largely it’s an overpriced ‘novelty meat’ for tourists. Crocodile meat is served all over the world including Asia and the Americas.
Where to find it? Any tourist trap in the Top End should be able to sort you out.
Hot tip: if you haven’t tried lemon myrtle, you definitely should. Otherwise known as lemon verbena, this native Australia flowering plant has many culinary uses.
From flavouring sweet desserts such as shortbread or custard, to dry rubs for meats, or to add zingy freshness to vegetables and salads. Like all citrus it goes particularly well with fish.
Where to find it? Get dried Lemon Myrtle from the Bush Food Shop online or try innovative restaurants with a native ingredient focus such as Jaanang Tree, headed by Australia’s only hatted Indigenous chef Clayton Donovan.
A native Australian fruit that has been referred to as ‘citrus caviar’ by top chefs. Admittedly, this is a rather conceited label, but they sure do taste good and it’s 100% Australian.
Where to find them? Specialist grocers and fancy restaurants. For a treat try Vue De Monde for Clare de Lune oysters topped with finger lime.
Burgers = American. Burgers with beetroot, pineapple and a fried egg? Aussie through and through. We’ve bastardised an already bastardised dish to the n’th degree of bastardisation. And for this, we are proud.
Where to find them? Any fish and chip shop, takeaway or fast food store.
You would think given the title that ‘Moreton Bay Bugs’ would be Australian, given that, well, Moreton Bay is in Australia. But they’re not actually that Australian at all.
In fact, they’re gallivanting around all over the Indian and Pacific oceans under fake names such as Thenus, slipper lobster and flathead lobster.
These con-men can be found pretty much anywhere between the east coast of Africa to China, Japan, Philippines and more. Australian imposters…great tasting imposters though.
Where can you find them? See above.
Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, so if your dog asks for a macadamia nut, don’t give it to them.
The macadamia tree is indigenous to Australia and occurs in parts of New South Wales and Queensland and is commercially lucrative for its fruit, nuts, and madedamia oil which is used in skin and hair care products.
The best part about macadamia nuts in comparison to other nuts is that they’re high in fat and low in protein, which means they taste great.
What can I do with them? The Australian Macadamia Organisation has plenty of great recipes to try out over summer.
Pies of course were an English invention and were originally called ‘coffins’ because they encased dead meat. Weird.
But like most things, we ran with the concept and made it our own. The key differences between an Aussie pie and the traditional English are size and content.
English pies are large whilst ours are hand held so you can eat them in the car or when you’re on the phone or riding your bike.
Where the ye ole’ English ones used large chunks of steak, we decided to mince the shit out of our meat so we could substitute prime beef for cheaper cuts such as snout, get heaps more gravy in there and nobody would be the wiser.
Where can I find them? Check out The Great Australian Pie Competition website, they have an App which will tell you where the closest award winning pie is.
They’re Chinese you say. Nope, they’re skippy m8.
Based on the traditional Chinese dim-sum, this version has been adjusted to more closely align with Australian tastes.
The quality of ingredients has been dropped, the product frozen, and the option of deep-frying added as a cooking method.
Those wishing to entirely squash the notion of tradition also add tomato sauce as well as soy sauce.
Where can you find them? Same places you’ll find the burger with the lot. Maybe ask for a meal deal?
As a general rule Australian’s don’t like ‘fancy words’. Therefore calling a simple bakery item – essentially custard and biscuit – a ‘Mille-feuille’, is completely unacceptable.
So we called it a ‘Vanilla Slice’ instead.
But that had four syllables and we wanted a two syllable option. Solution: ‘Snot Block’.
Why? Because the custard looks like and has the consistency of ‘snot’ and it’s block shaped. Now that’s Australian.
Where to find them? Any reputable bakery, country bakeries in particular. The slice from Ballarat was named best in Australia.
Following the Australian tradition of adding an egg to literally everything we eat, it was impossible for this Italian classic to escape the goog treatment.
The Aussie pizza – ham, cheese, egg well-done – is a mainstay on most; if not all local pizzeria menus in Australia though it’s definitely not the most popular of all the International dishes we’ve ruined.
What it lacks in flavour, it more than makes up for in egg.
Where to find them? All suburban pizza shops.
Whilst closely related to ordinary tomatoes, this fruit of the nightshade species – native to the arid plains of Australia – is actually more closely aligned to the Eggplant.
A bush tucker food of the Aborigines it’s unlikely you’ll encounter this without an expert guide to point it out.
Where to find them? Venturing into the Australian desert is ill-advised.
Still made in Bundaberg, Queensland, responsible for theinfamous drop bear ad and a major sponsor of the Australian Rugby Union team the Wallabies, this brown liquor is occa (Australian) as.
Where to find it? SEE: VB
An epochal sportfish sought after by anglers all over the world, and due to its white, flaky flesh is also a highly popular as a table fish.
The name ‘Barramundi’ is a loanword from Australian Aboriginal language, but in fact the species is dispersed throughout Indo-west pacific region including Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea.
Due to its popularity a large proportion of Barramundi eaten within Australia is imported from Asia.
Where to find it? Try locally caught Barra at Stokes Hill Wharf in Darwin.
The ‘Chiko Roll’ – a football snack inspired by the Chinese Spring Roll – has been variously described as an Australian ‘cultural icon’.
At the peak of its popularity during the 1960s and 1970s, approximately 40 million of these were sold annually and like most Australian food inventions, it was designed to be eaten without any formal utensils.
But the glory years of the Chiko Roll seem to be over, with consumption dropping by over 50% by 2011, probably due to the menagerie of unpronounceable, heart-attack-inducing ingredients.
Where to find them? AFL Football matches (local ones in particular), frozen food aisle of your local supermarket.
The term Jaffa has come a proprietary eponym used to describe pretty much everything chocolate-orange flavour in Australia – Jaffa cake, Jaffa Milkshakes etc.
The original sweet, a small spherical chocolate ball with a crunchy red outer shell and have been around since 1931.
Jaffas were a founding member of the ‘mixed-lolly bag’ – omnipresent in Australia’s suburban milk-bars.However, like quite a few items on this list, they’re as much a part of Kiwiana and they are Australiana.