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The Food of Australia

Planning a trip on holiday or business to beautiful Australia and want to find out what the locals eat? Read our short guide to Australian food and don't forget we offer car hire at incredible prices. Don't pay too much for vehicle hire, get a free quote using the form to the left of the page and keep reading...

Australia is a country known for its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and often eccentric people, among the many other aspects of the nation that draw flocks of tourists to its shores year in and year out. One thing you don't often hear Australia mentioned for, however, is its food. Perhaps this is merely due to the sheer number of other attractions that have overshadowed Australian cuisine, but the fact remains that there are many different types of food to be found in Australia that are both delicious and unique to the country. For the hungry traveler and gastronomic enthusiast alike, Australia offers many different dishes to excite and inspire - though, like some parts of the country itself, some local specialities are not for the faint of heart!

The most adventurous delicacy to be found in Australia, particularly for Western visitors, is likely to come in the form of the witchetty grub. Unfortunately for the squeamish, this food is exactly what it sounds like: a large, pale-coloured grub (the larvae of a moth) that has been eaten throughout Australia for centuries. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this particular delicacy is that it actually tastes quite good, having a distinctly nutty flavour. As the grub is a traditional part of 'bush tucker', it can be eaten raw by the brave, or cooked into a number of different recipes.

On a slightly sweeter note, Australia has produced a number of sweet treats that have become famous worldwide. Among them, the lamington is a one of the most enduringly popular. In its simplest form, this teatime delight consists of a sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing and covered with sprinkles of desiccated coconut. A more elaborate version calls for the cake to be cut in half and filled with strawberry jam and whipped cream. The lamington has become such a national institution that there is even a National Lamington Day each year on the 21st of July!

One of the most controversial food items native to Australia, if only because some people swear by it while others hate it, is Vegemite. Invented by a chemist in 1922, this thick, dark, savoury spread has been an Australian staple for decades, and is used in many different ways, from flavouring soups or stews to spreading on bread or crackers. Its unique taste is one that is difficult to describe without having tasted it, but its mixture of saltiness and bitterness goes equally well with cheese or peanut butter.

For a truly classic Australian snack, look no further than the humble Anzac biscuit. Named after the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought in the First World War, these crunchy biscuits were first made by Australian women during the war to send to the men fighting abroad. Made from hardy ingredients such as rolled oats, desiccated coconut, and golden syrup, the biscuits were (and still are) a good balance between being tasty and keeping well for long voyages. Today, these simple, traditional biscuits are still enjoyed all around Australia, and still bear the name that honours the soldiers for which they were originally made.

Another dessert developed by the Australians that has found popularity overseas is the pavlova. As Australia's national dessert, this sweet dish is enjoyed all over the country, and was first invented and named to honour the visit of famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova to the country. The dessert can be best described as a hybrid between meringue and cake, and is comprised of a meringue shell filled with a marshmallow-like center. The pavlova is traditionally served topped with whipped cream and an assortment of fresh fruit.

Although somewhat difficult to find due to the protected status of the animal, crocodile meat is sold (legally, of course) by a few farms around Australia, and can make a unique dining experience for the adventurous carnivore. Said to have a taste similar to that of chicken, but with more flavour, crocodile meat can be eaten in a variety of different forms, such as steak, kebab, or even sausage. While not eaten very often by Australians at home, many restaurants around the country serve crocodile meat.

Kangaroo is another exotic meat that can be found in supermarkets and restaurants around Australia (though, like crocodile, it is less commonly eaten in Australian homes). This meat is particularly lean and gamey, and is can be eaten as a steak, as dried jerky, or even in more creative settings, such as on a pizza.

For vegetarians, another unusual food that is native to Australia can be found in the quandong. This unusually-named fruit has formed a large part of the Aboriginal diet for centuries, and in addition to their nutritional content have been shown to have powerful medicinal properties that are used in traditional remedies to treat conditions such as rheumatism. The leaves of the quandong tree, meanwhile can be used in ointments to treat a variety of topical conditions. The fruit itself has a distinctive sweet taste, and can be eaten raw as well as in the form of a jam.

Although native to New Zealand, the kumara is a type of sweet potato that is a staple food that has found considerable popularity in Australia as well due to its high nutritional value, great taste, and versatility in cooking. As the designation of sweet potato would suggest, the kumara is similar to a normal potato in appearance, but has a much sweeter taste and generally softer texture. Kumara can be found in white, gold, and red varieties (each with its own subtle differences in taste), and can be found in a wide assortment of dishes, from soups and stews to pies and salads.

Due to its extensive coastline, Australia also boasts a wide variety of seafood dishes to choose from, many of which incorporate fish and other creatures that are unique to these waters. From the ubiquitous "shrimp on the barbie" (slang for a shrimp or prawn cooked over a barbecue) to exotic fish such as barramundi, coral trout, red emperor, and 'balmain bugs' (similar to lobster), there are many varieties to choose from, cooked in any number of different ways to suit your taste.

For a twist on a more conventional type of food, simply order a hamburger 'with the lot' from any Australian burger joint. What you'll get is just that: a traditional hamburger served with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, a fried egg, a few rashers of bacon, and a slice each of canned pineapple and beetroot. Burgers like these tend to be large, so make sure you know what you're getting yourself in for!

With so many different foods on offer, you'll never go hungry in Australia. Be sure to try the many different delicacies that the country has to offer, and remember to be adventurous!
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