What Makes Australian Food Culture so Vibrant and Diverse?

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Australian food culture has evolved from the bland cooking and scarce ingredients used by the initial settlers in the 18th century into the highly imaginative blends of today's cuisine.

There are many reasons for this: fresh and high quality produce, a broad range of vegetables and fruit grown locally, and, probably the most important of all, the eating patterns of different cultures that continue to influence our tastes.

Food has become part of our culture and lifestyle, with cooking shows on television enjoying increasingly huge audience viewings and ratings.

Ethnic Taste and Flavours

Various immigrant ethnic groups have brought their own flavours and tastes to the Australian food culture.

It was probably the Greeks who planted their olive trees first. Olive oil is now an ingredient used extensively in Australian cooking:

  • It works well with the fresh salads that many Aussies eat for lunch or dinner.
  • It is delicious with sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese with herbs, as an appetiser.

But there is a local alternative for olive oil. It is the oil extracted from the  macadamia nut, which is a native Australian plant.

The macadamia oil is excellent as it has extremely high levels of the healthy mono-unsaturated fats. It is good in salads, finger-licking when dipping your bread and great for cooking too.

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Italians, who are passionate about coffee, developed a whole new culture - the much sought after cafe culture.

Today the terminology has extended from the hot, strong beverage to a whole new lifestyle. Australians prefer to live in suburbs that have a "cafe strip" - streets with plenty small cafes, where they can enjoy lazy, "al fresco" brunches on weekends.

And if you think you can get away with asking for just a coffee, think again. The barista will look at you confused and expect you to finish the sentence. There's no such thing as simply coffee, because the coffee universe is really broad in the Australian food culture:

  • Think espresso,
  • then latte - coffee with steamed milk served in a glass,
  • then flat white - espresso with velvety milk foam.
  • Pour less steamed milk, add a dash of cocoa or chocolate and you have cappuccino or simply "cap".
  • You can also have a skim cap which is cappuccino with low fat milk.
  • Other coffee orders include long black, macchiato, mocha, decaffeinated or "decaff" and the list goes on and on.

And for a local taste of coffee, add some ground roasted wattleseed when you make your coffee and enjoy the new hazelnut and chocolate touch of your brew.

Australian foods have come a long way by integrating Asian ingredients and recipes into everyday cooking. They top the preferences of a large majority of food lovers with so many tasty varieties, amazing blends and abundant aromas.

And seafood is big in Australian diet.

Sydney fish markets are part of the local food culture

A visit to the fish market will get your taste buds craving for the fresh and beautiful scallops, giant lobsters, prawns and large assortment of fish such as the barramundi, salmon or tuna. Very yummy and healthy.

seafood and salmon at sydney fish market

But the food that unifies the nation is the "barbie", which is the Aussie short for barbecue.

Gather your family and friends, put the meats and beer in your "esky" (cooler box) and head to one of the many parks or beaches around you. Fire an electric or wood barbie that is available for free (or sometimes for a coin), throw on lamb chops, beef steaks, sausages or prawns, grab your beer and enjoy your weekend.

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