Until just three decades ago the average diet of the average Australian did not go much beyond the meats, vegetables and fish that each place offered in its local area. That is why it could be said that the current Australian cuisine is of relatively late sophistication. However, in recent years, the continent has diversified its gastronomic offer and expanded its horizons.
As a result, the contemporary Aussie cuisine combines the British and Irish tradition of the first European colonizers of the continent, with that of the ancient Australian aborigines. This second, known as Bush Tucker or Bush Food, is based on a perfect understanding of the natural environment and its native ingredients; a knowledge that has been transmitted from generation to generation intact to this day and of which more than 350 types of vegetables and exotic meats are incorporated.
If we add to all this the influence of the Middle East, Asia and Africa - favoured by the waves of immigration of the last century - we will have all the keys to understand the current Australian cuisine.
One of the oldest desserts of the island is Anzac biscuits whose origin is shared with New Zealand. The name comes from the acronym "Australian and New Zealand Army Corps", the joint army that was created between both countries during the course of the First World War. It is a biscuit prepared with oatmeal, flour, coconut, sugar and a golden syrup. They are quite hard and can be kept for long periods of time, so they were sent by the wives of the soldiers to the front where they were fighting.
Australia also has a great diversity of fish from the two oceans it is surrounded by. However, among all the varieties that you can find, the Barramundi is the Australian favourite. Its name comes from the aboriginal language, meaning "river fish with large scales". It is a very long-lived species and some specimens can reach 2 meters in length and weigh up to 60 kg. It is served in almost all restaurants in the country in a typical stew that is cooked with wild herbs and combined with a sauce of kiwi and peach
White, tasty, succulent, low in fat and high in protein, another of the most exotic meats consumed in Australia is crocodile; a delicacy for Australians and Asians and therefore quite expensive. According to the locals, it is a meat that tastes like a between chicken and fish, and similar - both in texture and flavour - to no other. It can be cooked in many different ways, but it should always be allowed to rest before it is eaten to relax the meat and make it more tender.
The emu is a large bird of grey colour, with a long neck and short wings, very similar to the ostrich. With a high content of proteins, iron and vitamin C, it's dark and almost fat-free meat, like that of kangaroo, must be cooked in order to avoid losing its texture and tenderness, so the most common way of preparing it is to grill it or shape it in the form of a hamburger.
One of the most common questions when talking about Australian cuisine refers to whether kangaroo meat is consumed on the continent. Indeed, kangaroo meat appreciated throughout the country. This has been an indispensable source of protein for the aboriginal population for centuries. Currently, considered a delicacy and one of the most exquisite in the world, the meat of this marsupial is exported to more than 50 countries. The most common way to consume it is grilled, however, in Australia, you will find it stewed in many ways, for example in kangaroo tail soup, another recipe of enormous popularity throughout the country.
Another of the most representative dishes of the country is the meat pie or meatloaf, in Australia also known as "Dog Eye". It is a dish of British heritage. Although there are many variants, the traditional Australian meat pie is made with a puff pastry stuffed with meat, mashed potatoes and a thick sauce. It is very common to find it in bakeries, street stalls and sporting events, however meat pie has evolved so much in recent years that we can also find it as part of the menus of the most renowned restaurants.
Among the most popular desserts is the pavlova; a cake with a base of meringue - crunchy on the outside and spongy inside - covered with whipped cream, chocolate and pieces of fruit. Named in honour of the famous Russian dancer Anna Pavlova, apparently on a trip to neighbouring New Zealand, it is an equally popular dessert in Australia and both countries dispute the authorship of the dessert.
There are few Australian houses where the day does not start accompanied by Vegemite: one of the national foods and the most traditional breakfast items on the island. It is a dark brown spreadable paste made from a yeast extract. It has a strong and salty flavour that requires time to get used to and is eaten in sandwiches and on toast.
Yabbies are either crayfish or lobsters depending on the region, and are famous throughout the continent for the stories that revolve around the difficulty of capturing them. On the western slope of the island, there is a brown variety that is probably the most unique and appreciated of the entire continent. In contrast, its meat is impeccably white and very tasty and you can find them being served in restaurants all over the country cooked in the most varied ways.