5 Aussie foods to try

If you happen to find yourself in Australia for a holiday, long-term stay or a big fat life change, here’s a helpful list of things you should try at least once.

The list is a collection from my own observations as a Canuck of some exciting Aussie foods that are a little different from the typical Canadian/North American diet. Not everything made the list: noble shout outs to damper bread (an Australian soda bread that’s best served warm with heaps of delicious Australian butter), the multitude of yummy treats like melting moments, Iced Vo Vos (sounds dirty but it’s not), Monte Carlos, and the patriotic ANZAC biscuit, meat pies, bircher muesli and of course crocodile. For a more, ahem, exotic listing of Australian foods to eat, check out CNN’s travel blog “Australian food: 40 dishes locals like to call their own”.

  1. Vegemite

    Vegemite ... yummy  salt bomb

    Vegemite … yummy umami salt bomb
    Image: Kraft foods

    So my first description of what Vegemite tastes like, might not have done it justice but I think for a non-Australian who hasn’t grown up on the stuff, it was pretty accurate. There’s a definite umami flavour happening and chef, traveller and good geek Ben Starr writes a great post on describing the taste from another non-Australian. I liked Vegemite when I first tasted it. Despite the majority of items on this list being sweet, I tend to favour more savoury/salty foods. I would have it for breakfast on buttered toast and pair it with another piece of buttered toast but this one was topped with strawberry jam. The combination of salty, sweet and buttery was an awesome way to start your day and to top it with a perfectly brewed cup of tea … well I could have eaten that for breakfast for the rest of my life. No problem. I mean no worries, mate! I told a coworker about my salty-sweet morning breakfast and she looked at me in horror. I’m not sure if I committed some sort of national incident but other Australians that I’ve shared this with don’t see the genius of the dish and only tend to pair it with other savoury items like cheese, tomatoes, scrambled or poached eggs. All good choices to pair with Vegemite, but I still think my dish is a winner.

  2. Tim Tams

    A package of the most delicious biscuit in the world, Tim Tam. Image courtesy of Arnott’s

    The original – Tim Tams. Image: Arnott’s

    Two chocolate biscuits covered in chocolate and sandwiched between a delicious chocolate cream make this biscuit and Australian icon. Read about the Tim Tam Slamprevious post on how to enjoy these delightfully decadent treats.

  3. Lamingtons

    Lamington Image: wikipedia.org

    Lamington
    Image: wikipedia.org

    Named after the wife of a Governor of Queensland, Lady Lamington, these delicate little cakes are made from a vanilla sponge cake, coated in a layer of chocolate, then a layer of shredded coconut. Variations include strawberry jam or cream-filled or my personal fav both with jam and cream. When we first arrived in Brisbane,we ate so many of these that we haven’t been able to touch them since, but since writing about them now, I think I might make a trip to the grocery store and pick some up. They’re perfect with a cup of tea or coffee as an afternoon treat.

  4. Kangaroo and kanga bangas

    Kangaroo Image: Lindsey Lumsden

    Australia’s national animal: Kangaroo
    Image: Lindsey Lumsden

    I previously wrote about kangaroo. It’s flavourful and best served medium rare, maybe crusted with dukkah (a dry rub consisting of nuts, usually sesame seeds, pistachios, cumin, etc) and paired with a great glass of cab sauv or merlot. If chowing down on a kangaroo fillet isn’t your thing but you still want to try it as a dare, cross it off your bucket list, whatever the reason, then try it as a banga! Kanga Bangas (aka kangaroo bangers, as in sausages) is a pretty decent way to ease yourself into trying the national animal of Australia. Familiar enough to put you at ease but exhilarating at the same time because you’re eating kangaroo!

  5. Dairy

    Delicious creamy Australian dairy

    Delicious creamy Australian dairy
    Image: thewellnesswarrior.com.au

    Australian and New Zealand cream, yoghurt, and butter is delicious. I haven’t visited the UK in a long time and can’t remember how good their dairy was but I know it’s up there. The cows, the grass that the cows eat (if they even eat grass), the process – I’m not sure what it is that makes Australian dairy taste so good. Like their English counterparts, they have a ton of variety that we just don’t see every day in Canada. Regular thickened cream, light thickened cream, extra light thickened cream, pure cream, double cream, dollop cream, cooking cream, double thick custard, pouring custard (yes, they sell eggnog-like containers of pouring custard all year long!), and a super thick sour cream. I needed cream for an Alfredo sauce one night after work and stood in front of the dairy case looking and acting like a mouth breather. How hard could it be to pick a cream? I finally put my half Italian pride on the side and asked a lady next to me. My Canadian accent must have thrown her because it looked like she took a moment to figure out what I had just asked. At least I hope it was my accent and not the fact that I was asking what cream I should be cooking with. That would have been awwwwkwaaard.

What are you up for tasting? Anything you would add to the list?

The Tim Tam Slam: How to be Australian

Of all the Australian foods that I’ve enjoyed while living here for the past two years, by far the best is the iconic Australian biscuit, the Tim Tam.

tim tams biscuits

A package of the most delicious biscuit in the world, Tim Tam. Image courtesy of Arnott’s

I’m not a chocolate lover at all but I will make the exception for a Tim Tam.Tim Tams are cookies made of two chocolate biscuits, filled with a chocolate cream, and coated in chocolate. One in every two households in Australia have a pack of Tim Tams on hand, which translates to Australians consuming over 400 million biscuits each year. According to the manufacturer Arnott’s, the biscuits were named after a winning horse in the Kentucky Derby in 1958. It’s so Australiana that it’s probably part of the citizenship test.

No one really knows the origin of the slam, but it’s probably started by some bored kids (or adults, I don’t judge) playing with their food. The closest thing I can think of to a Canadian/North American version would be the Oreo dunk but even that’s stretching it. There’s really nothing like a Tim Tam and certainly the slam.

How to do the The Tim Tam Slam  (aka the Tim Tam Suck, Tim Tam Explosion and Tim Tam Bomb)

  1. Get a Tim Tam. Any flavour will do but the purest in me will only do the slam with the original variety. My favourite non-slam Tim Tam is white chocolate. I don’t think it’s available in Canada yet, but here’s a list of retailers in Canada that sell the delicious original flavour biscuits).
  2. Get a cup of hot tea or coffee. You can also drink it with hot chocolate or Milo, which is malted beverage (Ovalatine is a good substitute) but make sure it’s hot.
  3. Bite off diagonal corners of the biscuit.
  4. Use those ends of the biscuit as a straw and suck up the hot liquid through the biscuit.
  5. Slam it! Once you can feel the liquid has made its way through the biscuit, slam that delicious biscuit in your mouth fast! You just tasted the best thing in your life, my friend. You’re welcome. You have to move quickly or the biscuit will start to disintegrate and then you’ve ruined it and will have to start over. It’s the most devastating thing in the world to drop a biscuit in your tea and spend the rest of the time fishing out the chunks.

Hate reading? Here’s a video on how to do the slam

Thank you Australia!

Australius Boganus (The Bogan): Native species of Australia

Australia’s warm, subtropical climate creates the perfect environment for one of the nation’s greatest native species: the Australius boganus, otherwise known as the bogan.

The bogan’s easily identifiable features include:

  • Mullet
  • Missing teeth
  • Acid-washed jeans
  • Driving a Ute (that’s Australian for utility vehicle aka pick-up truck)
  • Use of “truck nuts”
  • A propensity for swearing
  • Swearing at/around your children
  • Wearing Ugg boots outside (Uggs are meant to be only worn indoors as house shoes)
  • Using white sandwich bread as the bun for your hot dog or sausage
Australian bogan

Australian bogan. Image courtesy of FromParistoMelbourne

The bogan’s natural habitat can sometimes be difficult to identify, however if there’s a car in the front yard, a couch on the porch, and a collection of empty beer bottles lining window sills or doorways, you know you’re in the presence of the elusive bogan.

The genetic North American cousin of the bogan, the white trash and redneck variety, thrives in North America. But the bogan is evolving. It’s coming into money, big money. It’s getting richer. Enter the CUB; the “Cashed Up Bogan”. This offshoot has recently appeared in Australia, typically on the west and east coasts where jobs on oil rigs or in mines are plentiful. The term was “used by one marketing researcher in 2006 to describe people of a blue-collar background now earning a high salary and spending their earnings on expensive consumer items as a matter of conspicuous consumption”. You can find CUBs at five star restaurants wearing jeans and running shoes, high end resorts wearing beer/alcohol-branded t-shirts, at gambling establishments, anyone on jet skis and anyone going to an Eminem concert (true story, it happened yesterday).

Vibewire.org wrote a great article about CUBs, comparing them to hipsters but with more money.

Interested in learning more about these native creatures? Check out the blog “Things Bogans Like”.