Australian Cuisine and Some Foods I’ve Managed to Avoid

Those of you who are regular readers of Australia and New Zealand magazine will know that I no longer write a monthly article for them. My final piece for them, which appeared back in February 2018, was about Australian cuisine.

Just to be clear though, before we push on, I’m no foodie and I can’t cook for toffee. So I can’t criticise, can I?

Or can I? Here’s a reprint of the article.

Australian cuisine

This is my 100th entry into my Expat Diary, and my last. I’ve had a great time writing these articles each month and sharing my view of life down under, but it’s time to hang up my pen.

I have written about so many different subjects over the years, but there have been a few things Australian that I have skilfully managed to avoid mentioning. When it comes to Australian cuisine, not only have I managed to avoid mentioning it, I’ve also managed to avoid eating many of Australia’s favourite foods and ‘delicacies’.

So, first up, here’s what I haven’t eaten.

Never had a Bung fritz, which looks scarily like an oversized saveloy. The difference, I’m told, is that the Bung fritz, a delicacy in South Australia, apparently contains quality meats, not pig’s brains. Maybe I will give one a try.

I will almost certainly continue to avoid the Witchetty grub for as long as I possibly can though. No explanation needed, after all it looks like a large maggot…

…and is best eaten raw and alive. Apparently they taste like scrambled eggs, and I like scrambled eggs. But still, no, no, no, not even if I were on a reality TV show.

I’ve also managed to avoid Tim Tams, apparently ranked the world’s most popular biscuit per capita.

Tim Tams are an Aussie favourite, but the UK government are not so keen. Two of the food colourings used in the biscuit, E102 and E110, are included in their list of six colours supplied to the EU market that must carry additional warning information. No such problems in the US though, Tim Tams relaunched there early in 2016 and have since been flying off the supermarket shelves with increasing speed.

I’ve also managed to avoid eating a Chiko Roll so far, but as I researched the ingredients I found myself becoming tempted to give one a go.

This little beauty contains no chicken, as you might have thought. Instead, the deep-fried spring roll lookalike contains beef, cabbage, carrots, celery, onion, green beans, spices and much much more.

Sounds yummy.

But then I discovered, would you believe, it too can include added E102 and E110. Further information online suggests that some chiko brands contain ingredients that simply can’t be identified. Witchetty grub? Surely not, so maybe I will give one a go, it is an Australian icon after all.

Here are a couple favourites for kids parties; firstly, fairy bread. Recipe; sliced white bread cut into triangles, covered in margarine and smothered in 100s and 1000s. Yes, those multi-coloured tiny sweet candy balls which contain 80 grams of sugar per 100 grams. Plus more E102 and E110.

Fairy bread

Not for me, thank you, but I could well indulge in one of the other kids party favourites, the party pie.

Pies are big business here in Australia, big, big business. We like to get our children into them as early as possible, hence the party pie.

Nothing special, just a small (approx 7 cm diameter) beef pie served with lashings of tomato sauce. Meat pies are often described as Australia’s national dish, and yes, I eat them. Better than the Witchetty grub, I suppose, but anyhow, I moved here for the weather, not the food.

Nobody moves to Australia for the food.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Diane Shepherd December 30, 2019, 5:57 am |

    Hi Bob, I know you correspond with MANY people, but you may JUST recall that we are in the throes of hopefully moving to Australia. To cut a story short, we spent 10 weeks there this last winter from July to September, looking after the house and pets of our friends in NSW. We had amazing weather but of course we knew this was going to lead to trouble for the coming summer – yes, the bushfires. I have just spent an amount of time trying to find a contact where I can check if our friends are safe. Some weeks ago they wrote to say their area was in the catastrophic zone and to pack their personal belongings in readiness evacuation. However that changed, and they were OK. However, I have written to them 3 times in a very short time to ask if they are safe and had no reply so I am becoming quite worried. They have a son near Newcastle, one in Paramatta (Sydney outskirts) and a daughter not far from they themselves at Terrigal. We have no contact details for them though. I know I am on the wrong blog here Bob, and I sincerely apologise for that, but I suddenly thought you may have some idea how I can check our friends are OK. To make it more worrying, their back garden slopes upwards to some woods, which are about a minute and a bit away from the house. Thank you in anticipation. I don’t know who else to ask. Kind regards.

    • BobinOz January 2, 2020, 7:30 pm |

      Hi Diane, yes I remember you, recognised your name as soon as I saw it.

      I really do wish I could help, but there is absolutely nothing I can suggest. As you can imagine, it’s quite chaotic in the areas affected by the bushfires with many evacuating from the danger areas and heading for safer temporary communal accommodation.

      Communication isn’t easy and I’m not surprised you haven’t received a reply, but that doesn’t mean they are not safe. Hopefully, in time, you will hear back from your friends and they will be okay.

      Long way to go yet though, unfortunately, and this weekend is predicted to be extreme so our thoughts and prayers are for everyone to stay safe.

      • BobinOz January 6, 2020, 3:18 pm |

        Hi Diane

        I came across this today…

        I think it might be exactly what you’re looking for. Good luck, Bob

        • Diane Shepherd October 7, 2020, 5:29 pm |

          I can’t recall replying to your link about the Red Cross when I wrote about not having heard from our friends in NSW. Yes, the link WAS great so a big thank you Bob. Anyway, they did keep safe, thank goodness. However, their daughter and her boyfriend were evacuated, but all was well in the end. I guess fears will build soon though in Australia, being spring (?) there right now, I feel for all of you already. Take care with the Covid pandemic. I think Australia is pretty much safe although I am told there is no travelling allowed through borders. Here in France, not so good, it is virtually covering the whole country, though our “little pocket” is virtually clear of it at the moment. ‘Bye for now. Kind regards.

          • BobinOz October 16, 2020, 7:02 pm |

            No, I don’t think you did get back to me, but you have now 🙂

            Glad to hear the link was useful and really pleased to hear that your friends were safe. Yes, we’ve had our ups and downs with Covid, but we seem to be getting it all under control now throughout Australia and we are certainly doing much better than most other countries. In Queensland, where I am, we haven’t had a community transmitted case for over a month which is fantastic. Of course, we have bushfires to contend with next, although it is predicted that we might be having a wetter than normal summer, so hopefully that will help out.

            Hope you stay safe over there in France, Bob

            • Diane Shepherd October 17, 2020, 4:48 am |

              So pleased that I finally thanked you then, Bob! Also pleased that at least Australia is keeping the awful virus at bay. From what I have heard and read, I think I am correct in saying that Victoria is the worst hit. It is very scary here though, with 30,000 plus most days now, and especially with winter on its way, more scary, knowing that the virus thrives in cold weather. Still, there is more talk now of a vaccine, so in the meantime we are just continuing self isolating, and only venturing out to shop. Beautiful and very warm day yesterday so we went for a walk down at one of the local ports and then had a hot choc drink. We are still working towards moving over there, but when we were in NSW for 10 weeks last year, we were told we will have to return to the UK for 6 months before any possibility of moving, and that is the minimum, not knowing how long it would take to have the visa applications approved. I hope to be able to tell you we have made it one day!

              • BobinOz October 20, 2020, 3:59 pm |

                Yes, Victoria has been the worst hit, but right now they seem to have crushed the second wave which really is some achievement. The poor people of Victoria spent 100 days in lockdown, with a shed load of restrictions in place. At last they have the numbers down to single digits and today it was just one new case.

                As you say though, we all desperately need a vaccine that works, nothing will get back to normal until that happens. Nobody is moving to Australia at the moment under these conditions, but hopefully some time next year the borders can start to open again. Stay safe and I hope you make it here sometime soon.

                • Diane Shepherd October 20, 2020, 6:35 pm |

                  I am SO pleased Australia is doing well and in that context I am sure Victoria will get something sorted. We also have friends in QLD. New cases have diminished here at the moment thank goodness, due to some lockdowns in larger towns, but it is so up and down Fingers crossed for that vaccine!

  • Perth Is Ok November 29, 2019, 4:14 pm |

    Very helpful blog, I love to eat tim tams and chiko roll but after read this blog I will think twice before eat this. Thanks for this blog.

  • darren Blake. November 20, 2019, 11:38 pm |

    Not true Bob, when my wife and I visited a couple of years back one thing that amazed us was the quality of the food in nearly every place we went to was fantastic. In the uk you’d be lucky if you had a good meal you really enjoyed in 1 out of 10.
    Even if it was a small cafe or coffee shop the food was always excellent. We’re now in our final stages of getting a visa and hopefully be out summer next year and yes the weather was a huge draw but the food was also a massive bonus as I really love to cook and eat out.
    I can’t wait to start our new life if the visa comes through and I have ready your blog for many years and it has really helped us along our road, you’ve not sugar coated anything and told it how it is. Good luck with your future and best of health with the family.

    Best regards Darren.

    • BobinOz November 21, 2019, 6:13 pm |

      When it comes to eating out in restaurants and even buying fish, meat and veg in the shops, I couldn’t agree more. That kind of food in Australia is excellent. This article is just about some of the uniquely Australian ‘tasty treats’, looking at them in a light-hearted way.

      My experiences eating out in restaurants here in Australia is the same as yours, it’s almost always a good to great experience. When I lived in England, I used to hate going out for meals in restaurants, because invariably, something would cheese me off.

      The food, the service, or sometimes both would leave me asking why eating out is supposed to be a pleasant experience and seemingly never is.

      Sounds like you are close to getting your visa, so we’ll see you here soon. Hope you get to love Australia is much as I do.

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