Treat your taste buds with these 10 iconic Australian foods that have stood the test of time. Although Australians have a rich and varied dining palate, there are some traditional Australian foods that most love or at least evoke strong memories from childhood. I’m talking about luscious pavlovas, chocolate-laced lamingtons, unctuous meaty pies, simple snags, roast lamb, and fresh local prawns. Hot from the fire damper smeared liberally with golden syrup and Anzac biscuits also deserve a place on this list. Plus I have two newcomers that deserve to be included.
It is hard to narrow down the truly Australian foods that deserve to grace our tables on national days such as Australia Day, but I am going with these traditional loves and old-school recipes. There’s nothing fancy in this list, although with a clever twist you could make it so, it is just the type of food that your grandma used to serve. At least mine did!
Here is my list of foods that scream Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
Australia claims the pavlova as one of its iconic foods
This story includes
10 Iconic Australian Foods
A Luscious Pavlova
There are lots of stories about the origins of this Australian sweet which I love to cook. The oldest known named recipe for pavlova is from New Zealand, but I like the story that the dessert took its name from a performance by Anna Pavlova at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth where she danced “as light as air” in reference to the light meringue.
Some find pavlovas tricky to make, but it’s quite simple if you stick to the rules. I like to top my pavlova with a mix of seasonal fruit (mango at this time of the year) and dust with crushed chocolate Flake. Too easy.
Lamingtons are a favourite traditional Australian food, especially for children.
Lamingtons, squares of sponge cake coated in a layer of chocolate icing, then dipped into desiccated coconut, are also easy to love. Although there are claims from Toowoomba that they were first made there, I like the romance of the story from Old Government House in Brisbane. The French-born chef Armand Gallad, was called upon at short notice to provide something to feed unexpected guests during the busy period leading up to Federation in 1901. He cut up some left-over French vanilla sponge cake baked the day before, dipped the slices in chocolate, set them in coconut and, voila, we have lamingtons!
If you like lamingtons, you might also like Tim Tams, an iconic Australian biscuit from Arnotts. The supermarket shelves are full of them.
The meat pie deserves a spot on the list of iconic Australian foods
What would a trip to the footie be without a meat pie in hand? Of course, it has to be a hot pie and the trick is to eat it without burning your mouth or letting the tomato sauce drip down your shirt. I like making and eating meat pies and here is my favourite Chunky Steak Pie recipe from the famous Robinson Pie Shop in the Southern Highlands.
Cook your sausages low and slow
Throwing a snag on the barbie is definitely an Australian tradition. When I was a judge at the 2012 Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show (RQFWS) and Australian Meat Industry Council’s (AMIC) State Sausage King Competition in Brisbane, I got some great tips on how to cook the perfect sausage.
Roast lamb is a traditional Australian food
Tom Cruise might be out of favour, but lamb is definitely on my list of great Australian foods. Roasted, grilled, barbequed or fried – it’s all good but I do love it when they bring around lamb cutlets at parties. This recipe for a stuffed leg of roast lamb is absolutely amazing.
A bucket of prawns, fresh white bread, salt and pepper and thick creamy butter. Life doesn’t get much better in my book. Bliss. Buy them fresh from the trawler if you can but make sure they are farmed or caught in Australia.
So easy to make, damper is a traditional Australian soda bread prepared by swagmen, drovers and other travellers. This wheat flour based bread is traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire. You can also shape it like a sausage around a stick and then cook over an open fire. Golden syrup and lots of it is the traditional accompaniment.
Sweet and crunchy, Anzac biscuits are made using rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, boiling water and desiccated coconut. Anzac biscuits got their name from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I, when the biscuits were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients don’t spoil easily and kept well during transportation. Here are 10 recipes so you can find your favourite Anzac biscuit fix.
It may not be what your grandmother served, but go another generation or two back and you’ll find there were plenty of people eating kangaroo. It’s great meat but like all game meat, needs to be carefully cooked. Give it a try with this Kangaroo Curry recipe with coconut rice.
A new iconic Australian food – Bush Tucker
Okay, grandma never put bush tucker on the table, but it has become commonly used around Australia. Native plant foods include fruits such as quandong with its tart apricot and peach notes, sweet, apple-flavoured muntries, tangy Davidson plums and long, thin finger limes filled with tiny caviar-shaped bubbles of lime flavour. Spices such as the sweet citrus tang of lemon myrtle, the punch of mountain pepper and the subtle essence of aniseed myrtle create gentle but distinctive variations to dishes. Other leafy plants, such as warrigal greens, can be used as a substitute for spinach, but only in cooked dishes as it toxic when eaten raw.
Want to try bush tucker? If you live in Australia you can grow it in your own backyard.
Which are your iconic Australian foods?
Have your favourite traditional Australian foods made this list? If not, please share them in the comments below. I would love to know what you think are Australia’s iconic foods!