Understand how Australian cuisine fits in to the rhythms of the day, and find out about the most popular dishes of the country...
Fish and Seafood
Australia has the third largest fishing zone in the world. The clean waters around the country provide abundant seafood for export and domestic consumption. Fishing and aquaculture, which supplements the main ocean species of salmon, lobster, prawns and tuna, are an important part of the country's agricultural industry.
A legacy of Australia's colonial past is the continuing popularity of British style fish and chips as a take-away food, often eaten on the beach. The fish, generally flake or shark rather than cod, is deep fried in batter and served with chips. Seafood restaurants are common and popular as the vast majority of the population lives near the coast. Sydney is particularly renowned for its seafood restaurants.
Barramundi, which is found in rivers in the north of Australia is a popular catch with sporting anglers and is commonly found in restaurants.
The iconic image of Australian eating is that of a barbecue under sunny skies. Most homes have a barbecue and they can also be found at beaches, in camping and caravan parks and on business sites. The type of food cooked on barbecues has changed with Australian tastes. Traditional choices such as chops or sausages are being replaced with marinated steaks and fresh seafood served with gourmet salads and wine. Barbecues are also becoming increasingly popular as a Christmas meal rather than the traditional British style meal of roast turkey and vegetables.
Breakfast tends to be light and is typically made up of cereal, toast, or fruit with tea, coffee or juice. In colder regions a cooked breakfast of porridge, or bacon and eggs is common. Vegemite, a brown spread made from yeast extract, is popular on toast.
Dinner is the main meal of the day in Australia. Typical choices include roast meat with vegetables, pasta, pizza, a stir fry or barbecued meat. The meal is usually eaten at home.
Australians are one of the world's biggest consumers of fast-food. As in most western countries, take-aways and fast food reflect a wide range of cultures. There are a large number of Chinese, Indian and other Asian restaurants in Australia's major cities offering take-away food. Australian fast food restaurants serve hamburgers, fried chicken, kebabs and fish and chips.
"Sausage sizzles" are stalls selling barbecued sausages and fried onions on white bread with a tomato or barbecue sauce.
Classic Australian Foods
Vegemite is probably the most famous iconic Australian foodstuff. Others include a honeycomb chocolate bar named Violet Crumble; Dim Sim, a dumpling inspired by the popular Chinese dim-sum; vanilla slices and wheat biscuits. Lamingtons are square sponge cakes covered with chocolate icing and desiccated coconut. They were named after Baron Lamington who was Governor of Queensland at the end of the 19th century. Original Lamingtons had strawberry or raspberry jam in the centre but now it is usually whipped cream.
Damper is a traditional Australian bread made without yeast. It was originally cooked over hot coals and often wrapped around a stick before being eaten with honey and tea. Today it is often baked with nuts or dried fruit to enhance the flavour and is popular with butter and jam.
There is much debate between Australia and New Zealand over who created ANZAC biscuits and Pavlova. Anzac biscuits are generally made from rolled oats, golden syrup and desiccated coconut. They were made by women during World War One and named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps to whom they were sent.
Pavlova is a dessert named after the Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is a meringue shell topped with whipped cream and fruit. The oldest known recipes for both ANZAC biscuits and Pavlova appear to originate in New Zealand.
The macadamia nut is the only native Australian food to be highly commercialised.