Here is a look at some of the Australian foods that would have a few Pinoy’s scratching their heads and asking what the hell?
What exactly is Australian food?
While locals dine on fried rice, Thai curries, Mediterranean cuisine and the like, those dishes don’t really belong to Australia. They’re part of multicultural Australia, but are often claimed by other nations.
Apart from the homegrown kangaroo — and perhaps the now-American-owned Vegemite — there must be others.
Some are clichéd, some are obvious, some may surprise.
20. SAO biscuit
Founded as a charity biscuit, it used to be handed out by Salvation Army Officers (thus SAO).
SAO is a light-textured square biscuit that’s made by rolling dough into thin sheets, then cutting it into squares.
It’s often used to make a crispy sandwich by smearing on a layer of topping, such as Vegemite and butter.
For generations, the SAO sandwich has then been squeezed to create “worms” that pour out of the holes in the pastry, then eaten.
It’s kid’s food as art.
19. Cherry Ripe
Australia’s oldest chocolate bar is still one of its best-sellers.
The Cherry Ripe consists of coconut and cherries smothered in Cadbury’s Old Gold dark chocolate.
18. Chicken parmigiana
An Italian name, but a bona fide Australian pub classic, the parmigiana started as an eggplant dish in Italy and has since evolved into a chicken schnitzel topped with an Italian-inspired tomato sauce and melted cheese. A perfect marriage.
Sometimes it will also be topped with ham or prosciutto.
Usually comes with a beer on “parma night” at the local pub. Another wonderful union.
Get it: Pyrmont Point Hotel, 59 Harris St., Pyrmont, +61 (0)2 9660 1908
17. Pigs in a blanket
The perfect accompaniment to any roast dinner.
In the United States, the term often refers to hot dogs or sausages wrapped in dough or even a pancake. But in Australia it’s all about wrapping meat in more meat -– a double meat sandwich without bread.
16. Chiko roll
This Australian food icon was inspired by Chinese spring rolls.
The deep-fried snack contains beef (despite its name, there’s no chicken), celery, cabbage, barley, carrot, onion, green beans and spices in a battered tube. Probably some offal, too.
Some brands of chiko roll often contain ingredients that are simply unidentifiable. This adds to the experience.
Chiko rolls are generally eaten on the go and served at local fish ‘n’ chip shops or by snack vendors at train stations.
15. Spag bol
Sure, this entry will raise some eyebrows and, of course, spaghetti bolognese is a quintessentially Italian dish.
But when made with delicious Aussie beef and mushrooms, spag bol takes on an Australian feel.
Get it: Fratelli Fresh Waterloo, 7 Danks St., Waterloo, +61 (0) 2 9699 3161
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14. Meat pies
You can’t tell anyone you’re Australian unless you’ve eaten a meat pie. More than once. The flaky package that contains this guilty pleasure is the epitome of Australian food.
Colloquially referred to as a “dog’s eye,” the ingredients of the parcel have long been debated in Australian cuisine.
It’s on the menu at every house party, sporting venue and morning after a big night.
Nowadays, the meat pie has many up-market and gourmet variations, but if you like to keep it reasonably simple have the one with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Get it: Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo, +61 (0)2 9357 3074
13. Fairy bread
Remember your childhood when nothing could beat a bit of fairy bread?
Sliced white bread is cut into triangles, smeared with butter or margarine and covered inhundreds-and-thousands, which sticks to the bread for a bright and multi-colored treat.
A staple at kids parties. And easy to make, following the oh-so simple instructions above.
12. Seafood pizza
Everyone knows that pizza is Italian. Kind of. For a marinara, mate, come to downtown Sydney.
Smother your pizza with the freshest and tastiest seafood available in Australian waters. Sprinkle on some chilli flakes for a kick (and to bring out the amazing flavors) and don’t forget a glass of beer or chilled chardonnay.
No Australian has ever worked out why Americans use “marinara” to mean tomato sauce.
Get it: Made in Italy, 104 Miller St., Pyrmont, +61 (0)2 9518 8182
Although not unique to Australia, film character Mick Dundee ensured that the crocodile became synonymous with the country.
Although crocodile leather is made into wallets, belts and handbags, its meat is consumed by locals — though it’s definitely more of a delicacy and not widespread.
Get it: The Australian Heritage Hotel, 100 Cumberland St., The Rocks, +61 (0) 2 9247 2229.
10. Vegemite on toast
Happy little vegemites enjoy it for breakfast, lunch and tea, so goes the much-played anthem.
This is as Australian food as it gets.
Although it looks like Britain’s Marmite, locals will tell you Vegemite is very different. And substantially better, more savory than sweet.
Although the ingredients are much debated, the dark brown food paste is made from yeast extract (as opposed to Marmite’s vegetable extract).
Instructions are simple: spread the toast as soon as possible and apply an even spread of vege.
So popular is it, that reports that U.S. Customs had banned the importation of Vegemite caused a furor in Australian media, which urged protests aimed at the White House. The reports turned out to be false and now are something of an urban legend.
9. Vanilla slice
This pastry originated in France, though there it is called mille-feuille, which translates to a “thousand sheets.”
In English it’s a vanilla slice, and Australians claim ownership of the vanilla-custard-filled, multi-layered pastry that’s dusted with icing sugar.
The slice can come with many flavoring options. Cream it up.
Like pavlova, New Zealanders also claim the vanilla slice. Although they call it the custard square, which is arguably more accurate.
Aussies have the vanilla slice, Kiwis the custard square. Both winners.
Get it: La Renaissance, 47 Argyle St., The Rocks, +61 (0)2 9241 4878
8. Cheese and bacon roll
Not one for the health enthusiasts, but a favorite among those suffering from the effects of the night before.
The cheese and bacon roll is, quite simply, a bread rolled topped in bacon chunks and cheese. A popular Australian food lunchbox filler.
Get it: Baker’s Delight, Shop G02, Level 3, The Broadway Shopping Centre, 1-21 Bay St., Sydney, +61 (0)2 9212 7311
7. Grilled kangaroo
Why not eat the national animal? In some areas ‘roos overpopulate the terrain. Plus, the methane-free kangaroo is low in fat.
This is not for lovers of well-done meat as it’s prone to drying out. It’s generally cooked rare to medium, often primarily on one side.
Kangaroo goes well with garlic, pepper, juniper, rosemary and fruity flavors such as plum, red currant and orange.
And no, Australians don’t eat deep-fried koalas.
Get it: I’m Angus Steak House, The Promenade, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney 1300 989 989 (in Australia).
More on CNNGo: Sydney’s best kangaroo
Perhaps the most Australian of all fish varieties, Barramundi gets its name from the Aboriginal language meaning “large-scaled river fish.” It’s served in restaurants across the country.
Best pan-fried or seared skin-side first (rarely battered or deep fried), it’s often dished up as a fish steak with a herbed oil.
Get it: Pier, 594 New South Head Road, Rose Bay, +61 (0)2 9327 6561
5. Crab sticks
They’re called crab sticks, but do they contain any crab?
Crab sticks are an indispensable part of the culture, a dish in which processed, pulverized white fish flesh is shaped and cured to resemble crab leg meat.
And that’s still more crab-like than the deep-fried version from the local chippie.
Get it: Zushi Darlinghurst, 239 Victoria St., Darlinghurst, +61 (0)2 9357 3533
A favorite Australian food, the delectable bite-sized treat is made up of chewy caramel coated in milk chocolate.
It’s renowned for yellow and blue wrapping scribed with movie trivia, a marketing move that has endeared the treat to DVD groupies and movie goers.
3. Chicken and corn soup
Australia has embraced Chinese food. There’s an abundance of Chinese restaurants dotted throughout every city and town.
Chicken and corn soup is a staple of these menus and it’s so good, we call it Australian.
Get it: Saigon Bay, 249 Oxford St., Darlinghurst, +61 (0)29360 3220
2. Green chicken curry pie
Australians love Thai food. They also love pies (a lot). Put a Thai chicken green curry inside a pie casing and you get the Aussie variant of a green curry.
Get it: Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo, +61 (0) 2 9357 3074.
More on CNNGo: 5 Australian Thai dishes
1. Hamburger with beetroot
You can eat burgers all over the world, but nothing is more Australian than slinging a piece of beetroot on top a pattie made with Aussie beef.
That soft bun, all-beef pattie and cheese is simply not properly done without the finishing touch of beetroot.
It’s so good that Ronald McDonald tried to jump on the bandwagon with a McOz many years back.
But it’s natural home is the local take-away joint or local pub.
Get it: Burgerman, 116 Surrey St., Darlinghurst, +61 (0) 2 9361 0268