What cuisine has Australia’s young country snatched up and claimed as its own? Here are top 10 most famous Australian cuisine.
AUSTRALIANS PRIDE THEMSELVES on fantastic culinary inventions, some more inventive than others, but our commitment to our Australian cuisine “classics” implies that we prefer the simpler things.
Australians appreciate cuisine that complement our laid-back lifestyle, whether at a family Christmas feast in the midst of a blazing Australian summer or barracking at a local football match in the dead of winter. While many of our favorite Australian ‘food categories’ (such as the meat pie) have their origins overseas, we’ve gladly embraced many of them as our own.
Here are five sweet and five savory Australian delicacies that will evoke memories of days spent around the good old Australian backyard BBQ, relaxing on the beach, or just the daily.
According to legend, Western Australian chef Herbert Sachse of Perth’s Hotel Esplanade was inspired by Russian dancer Anna Pavlova during her 1926 and 1929 visits to Australia, and invented a dessert dish as light as the ballerina herself. It’s little surprise that it’s been firmly embedded in modern Australia’s food culture, with its airy meringue foundation layered in a layer of freshly whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit and tart passionfruit pulp. However, the origins of the ‘Pav’ are contested, with New Zealand claiming to have older forms of the light summer dessert in their cookbooks. It’s still one of the major points of disagreement between us and our Kiwi relatives today.
2. Chiko roll
The basic Chiko roll first appeared in Australia in 1951, at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Show in New South Wales. The cabbage, carrot, onion, and beef packed snack was devised by Frank McEnroe, a boilermaker from Bendigo, Victoria. He created the Chiko roll as a take-away snack for football matches, with the goal of creating a snack that could be carried in one hand while the other was engaged with a cool beer. The Chiko Roll, despite its name, does not include chicken and was inspired by the famous and considerably smaller Chinese spring roll that Chinese Australians claim as their own.
3. Meat pie
Despite the fact that the great Aussie meat pie was not invented in Australia, it has long had a special place in the hearts of Australians young and old. The first accounts of the Australian meat pie date back to early colonial times, when they were served from street carts, most notably by the Flying Pieman, whose athletic exploits are legendary. Meat pies are now widely available, and may be found in sports club canteens, gas stations, and gourmet bakeries. Since 1990, the ‘Official Great Aussie Pie Competition’ has been a national event, honoring the meat-and-gravy-filled, flaky pastry casing.
Splices were first introduced in the 1950s by Streets Ice Cream and quickly gained a cult following. The unusual ice cream, which was coated in a coating of fruit-flavored ice, was a staple of summer beach culture, peaking in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Originally available in a ‘pine-lime’ flavor, a raspberry variant was eventually produced and is remains popular among Australians today. “You’ll leap for joy, it tastes so good, it’s Streets’ amazing, raspberry Splice!” was the slogan of Streets’ 1963 advertising campaign.
There are several accounts of the lamington’s origin, and whether the sponge cake was originally coated in chocolate frosting and rolled in desiccated coconut was first done in Australia or New Zealand is still a point of contention. According to folklore, Lord Lamington of Queensland’s personal chef served the dessert to him around 1900. He suggested that this new delicacy be named after him after eating it. Today, the lamington can be found in nearly every CWA (Country Women’s Association) recipe book, where it may have initially originated — in a time when waste was frowned upon – as a method of using up defective or stale sponge cake.
In 1922, industrialist Fred Walker commissioned a young scientist, Cyril Callister, to create a spread made from spent brewer’s yeast, a naturally rich source of vitamin B that would otherwise be discarded. Walker promoted the unusual product as “excellent on sandwiches and toast, and boosting the flavors of soups, stews, and gravies,” a name picked from a hat after being entered in a nationwide naming competition. Since then, Australians have formed an almost jingoistic connection to their breakfast and sandwich spread, and they still sing along to ‘Happy Little Vegemites,’ a 1954 promotional song. Vegemite-cheese sandwiches, Vegemite and avocado on toast, Vegemite pizza, and, in Tasmania, Vegemite scrolls have all appeared since then.
7. Sausage sanger
Given Australia’s love of the outdoors, our great weather, and the emergence of the portable barbeque, the’sausage sizzle,’ Australia’s counterpart to the American ‘weiner roast,’ and a pillar of community fundraising, was certain to happen. What better way to enjoy a sizzled sausage than in a sausage sanger? A single piece of bread folded over a sauce-drenched sausage has become a favorite lunchtime meal for Australians, and it represents our love of slang — sanger is a venerable phrase for sandwich – and reflects our love of slang. Authorities have even adjusted infrastructure, such as installing public grills in numerous parks and reserves since the 1970s, so that they may be enjoyed almost everywhere.
Weet-Bix, Australia’s favorite morning cereal, was invented in the 1920s in Leichhardt, a Sydney suburb. Bennison Osborne, the company’s founder, intended to create a “budget-friendly health biscuit” to compete with Sanitarium’s Granose on the Australian breakfast table. Since then, the high-fibre breakfast biscuit has been served with copious amounts of milk – hot or cold – and devoured quickly before sogginess sets in. During WWII, Weet-Bix were given to Diggers on the South Pacific front, demonstrating their popularity and possibly their longevity. Early on, the firm moved to New Zealand, and Sir Edmund Hillary — the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest with ‘Tiger’ Tenzing Norgay – ate them on their famous trip. Osborne, ironically, sold his brainchild to Sanitarium early on since it was so successful.
9. Anzac biscuit
The Anzac biscuit was created in conjunction with our trans-Tasman neighbors in New Zealand. During WWI, ladies in soldiers’ homes made the first Anzac biscuit, which was not what we know today. It was initially known as a’soldier’s biscuit’ or ‘ANZAC tile,’ and was devised to supplement the Diggers’ bread supply. After 1915, the modern Anzac biscuit evolved from this primordial meal into a popular blend of oats, flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup, and bi-carbonate of soda; a delectable combination of ingredients that could endure the long ship and road journeys to the trenches.
10. Neenish tart
The origins of the Neenish tart, which is popular in small town bakeries, are likewise unknown. Mrs Ruby Neenish’s kitchen in Grong Grong, NSW, is reported to have invented this gelatine-set cream-filled pleasure in 1913. It’s commonly frosted in pink/brown, brown/white, or white/pink combinations. According to legend, she was making tarts for a kitchen tea when she ran short of cocoa for the chocolate frosting, which led to the creation of the bi-colored tart that we know and love today. However, in 1903, the Daily Telegraph of Launceston, Tasmania, published the first recorded recipe for Neenish tart.