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What’s Cookin’ in Australia This Summer?
A Guest Post by Emma Lawson
While Californians are making snow angels and sipping tea this February, the folks Down Under are soaking up the sun and eating ice cream by buckets. For Aussies, Christmas is far from white: as people in the Northern Hemisphere indulge in winter foodie delights, we’re rocking T-shirts, flip-flops, and swimsuits, guzzling chilled drinks, and savoring national delicacies. Wait, what do you mean, you don’t know what a typical dish in the Land Down Under is? We’d better put that right immediately: here’s a shorthand of the Australian menu, so feel free to borrow a few bites from it if you want to add some Aussie summertime zest to a long Californian winter.
The Diverse Aussie Dietary Deal
The Australian society is multicultural by nature, and abundance of ethnic culinary influences accounts for mouth-watering diversity of the country’s cuisine. Save for Bush tucker noms such as witchetty grubs, macadamia nuts, bush tomato, yams, and kangaroo, crocodile, and emu meat, few dishes on the Aussie menu are domestic by origin, but foreign roots don’t make the national dietary meal any less of a treat for a diehard foodie. By now, native foods have been incorporated into the 21st-century Australian cuisine, along with ingredients, spices, and meal prep techniques imported from overseas, resulting in a delightful concoction that thrives on variety and culinary experiments.
Weet-Bix to Kick-Start the Day
A high-fiber whole-grain biscuit beloved by Australians, Weet-Bix is usually served with milk as a light yet nutritious breakfast – but according to BuzzFeed, you can have your WB any way you can think of. First produced by Bennison Osborne in Leichhardt back in 1930, Weet-Bix was a snack of choice for Diggers on the South Pacific front in World War 2, and it also starred as dry food Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay ate on the expedition to Mount Everest. Small and sweet, Weet-Bix biscuits are a perfect snack for a first-time visitor looking to kick-start the day in the Land Down Under.
Spread Some Vegemite On It
If you prefer homemade gustatory delights to breakfast to-go, slather some Vegemite on toast instead of munching on Weet-Bix. A spread made from brewer’s yeast extract, Vegemite is a go-to for Vitamin B and it can be added to soups, stews, and gravies as a flavor enhancer. A perfect topping for toast, pizza, and sandwiches that can be combined with avocado, cheese, or tomato. Vegemite is savored ‘for breakfast, lunch and tea’, as the 1954 commercial jingle puts it.
A Chiko Roll To Go, Please
A take-away nibble that spilled out of football stadiums and over to street stalls, first Chiko rolls were made in Bendigo, when boilermaker Frank McEnroe who threw together cabbage, carrot, onion, and beef to make an appetizing deep-fried snack. The Australian version of the Chinese spring roll, today’s Chiko roll packs beef, cabbage, carrot, barley, onion, green beans, celery, and spices, and you can get one at most local fish ‘n’ chip shops or train station snack vendors.
Slip Another Shrimp on the Barbie
The only thing Australians love more than eating out is cooking al fresco. It’s not a wonder barbecue is the national meal prep procedure of choice. On weekends, you’ll often see smoke rising from BBQs around the country as Australians like to hang out with their neighbours and cousins in the backyard, with a stubbie (i.e. beer) in one hand and grilled prawns (i.e. shrimp) in the other.
End the Day with an Anzac
There is one more biscuit which made its mark in Australian history. The first ‘Anzac tile’ was a very hard biscuit made by soldiers’ wives in World War I. It was sent to the battlefield to supplement Diggers’ bread supply. After the war, the recipe was modified slightly, and today’s Anzac biscuit is made from oats, flour, butter, sugar, desiccated coconut, golden syrup, soda bi-carbonate, and water, and it’s much tastier than its wartime forerunner (albeit perhaps not as durable or potentially harmful if used as an ad hoc weapon).
A Pavlova To Go, Thank You
A dessert a hotel chef allegedly created specifically for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her tour of Australia in 1926. Pavlova is a light meringue-based treat. It has a crisp crust and soft inside coated by whipped cream, fresh fruit, and passion fruit pulp. Although Kiwis claim the dessert to be their national treat by right of origin, Ausssies love to have their Pavlovas in spring, summer, and fall. In fact, here’s the recipe to help you fall in love with one at first tasting, too!
For the meringue:
- egg whites from free-range eggs, 4
- CSR caster sugar, 225g
- Natural Organic Vanilla Essence-Extract, ½ tsp
- White Wings cornflour, 1 tbsp
For the filling:
- Pura double cream, 400ml
- hulled strawberries, 400g
- raspberries, 200g
- blueberries, 150g
- passion fruit, 3
- mint sprigs
- icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 150°C. Place the plate on a sheet of baking parchment and draw around it to make the base for the Pavlova.
- Whisk the egg whites with a mixer (Kenwood mixers are a norm in Australia) ‘till stiff.
- Add sugar, vanilla extract, and cornflour to the mixture gradually to make the meringue.
- Dab a few drops of the meringue to the corners of a large sheet of baking paper to secure it atop the round piece of baking parchment cut out earlier.
- Pour the meringue onto the outlined circle of the baking paper using a spoon. Shape the mixture on the paper using a serving spoon or rubber spatula to make a nest with soft edges rising around before you put the meringue in the oven. Bake for an hour ‘till the outside turns crisp and light brown, then switch the oven off and leave the meringue inside for another hour.
- When the meringue has cooled completely, release it from the baking parchment and place it on a serving plate. Whip cream and pour it into the meringue. Add strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Finally scrape the pulp of chopped passion fruit over it.
- Decorate the Pavlova with mint springs and sifted icing sugar before serving.
For Aussies, there’s more to food’s than just its nutritional value. A hotpot of ethnic influences, the Australian cuisine is brimming with palate-tingling flavors, fresh ingredients, and hassle-free preparation procedures. The dietary variety suits the Australian landmark laid-back attitude to life and all things light, bright, and easy-going. Quick, grab a Pavlova and make a toast to the good life!