The G20 Series: Australia

9 Jun

By Chris Garbutt

When I was in the fourth grade, I did a project on Australia, with cut-out pictures glued onto Bristol board and everything. I had all kinds of information about natural resources, demographics, flora and fauna, agriculture and political structure. I’m pretty sure there was nothing about the food. (I do recall, however, a statistic that said there were something like six times as many sheep in the country as people, a figure that I believe still holds.)

I’ve never been to Australia, but I do feel an affinity, simply because, like us, many people from elsewhere think of the country in stereotypes. No Australian I ever met talked about a “shrimp on the barbie”, though I have no doubt they all have had their share of grilled seafood. And thanks to Men at Work, we all know about vegemite. And should we even talk about Foster’s – a okay beer that is actually kind of hard to get in Australia?

Trying to track down an Aussie restaurant in this city is not easy – I still haven’t had any luck. There is the Tranzac Club, which, while devoted to promoting Australian and New Zealand culture in Toronto, makes no mention of cuisine on its  website.

Like Canada, Australia has a large immigrant population, and the government highlights the availability of flavours from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. But what is unique to Australia? What is their version of the beaver tail, the maple syrup, the figgy duff? Here are a few things I’ve discovered:

Dim Sim: a fried or steamed meat dumpling, at least twice as big as a Dim Sum dumpling, usually sold in Fish and Chip shops.

Moreton Bay Bugs: a kind of lobster, without claws.

Four ‘n Twenty Meat Pie: it’s, well it’s a meat pie. Often with ketchup squirted on top or inside through a hole in the crust. FYI, it has a Facebook fan page.

Pavolva: a meringue dessert best served with fruit.

Twisties: a crunchy rice snack in cheese and chicken flavours.

Tim Tams: tasty looking chocolate-covered cookies. If you find some, try a Tim Tam Slam!

And don’t forget, Australia is the fourth largest wine producer in the world!

Now I haven’t talked about kangaroo, though I am led to believe it smells terrible when cooking, but tastes like really good beef.

If you’re looking to know how  to talk at your next Aussie dinner party, here’s a lowdown on the lingo. And this government site offers some history, including information on traditional Aboriginal foods.

Think it might be time for a glass of Shiraz – I know I don’t have to look too hard to find that!


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