The cuisine slowly changed and evolved over time until 1800s when the technology
from the Industrial Revolution reached the country's shores and the way foods
were prepared, stored, and transported vastly changed. Improved transportation and
storage methods allowed for greater importation of foreign foods as these new technologies
also expanded the shelf life of foods.
In the 1900s and 2000s the immigrants to Australia have
primarily been from Asia's Far East and the foods in Australia have changed to reflect this. Korean,
Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian foods all became
popular in Australia and remain so today. These foods have also greatly inspired
the cuisine as fusion foods have become common in Australia today.
Also during this time fast foods have become popular as have processed and manufactured
foods. Although these trends remain common in Australia,
there is a growing trend for local foods, organic foods, and fusion foods created
by local restaurateurs.
When & Where to Eat
Many Australians start the day with breakfast, but what
this meal consists of varies quite substantially as some people only grab coffee
or tea in the morning while others have a full meal of eggs, breads or pastries,
fruits, potatoes, sausage, bacon, etc.
Lunch also tends to be a smaller meal for most Australians
as they eat from about noon to 2:00 pm. If working this meal is generally simple
as they take food from home, grab take out, or eat at a quick service restaurant.
Again the food varies greatly from person to person, but it tends to be a single
course meal, although a side snack or small dessert may also be eaten.
The evening meal, often referred to as "tea" (or dinner) tends to be the
largest meal of the day for the Australians and this is
usually eaten in the home, although many people try to eat in a restaurant on occasion,
especially on weekends. People have this meal any time from about 5:00-9:00 pm depending
on the person's schedule and it is usually eaten with the family or friends.
Bread: a common side dish with meals or a part of the meal
Dairy: dairy products, including cheeses and milk are very popular
and found with many meals
Potatoes: the most common starch, cooked in numerous ways
Regional Variations, Specialties, & Unique Dishes
Meat pie: this quick service food consists of ground beef (minced
meat), gravy, and any number of other ingredients enclosed in a pastry
Queensland & New South Wales: these states, like much of the
country is heavily influenced by the United Kingdom and its cuisine represents this
Pavlova: this cake is made with meringue and considered an iconic
food in Australia
Roast lamb: this meal, simply roasted lamb, is a favorite in Australia
Victoria & South Australia: these states have strong German
influence from meat preparation to desserts; they are also known for their wines,
which are commonly served with meals
The formality of dining and the rules associated with each level of formality vary
greatly in Australia depending on the company and the
setting. Eating in a nice restaurant with business associates means you must follow
many of the common international dining etiquette rules, while if invited to an
Australian's house for a "barbie" (or barbeque) the biggest concern
might be making sure there's enough beer or wine.
No matter the setting, try to arrive to any dining event with the
Australians on time or even a few minutes early. If you're invited to
eat at their home be sure to bring a gift, a drink to share, or even a dish to pass.
Ask the host in advance if there is anything you can bring, if they say no bring
a bottle of wine, some chocolates, or flowers anyway as a thank you for dinner.
If attending a "barbie" the host will likely ask you to bring wine or
beer for yourself or to share, although on very informal occasions they may even
ask you to bring your own meat. If dining in a local's home, be sure to offer
to assist with preparation or clean-up.
When it comes to seating, let your host seat you no matter the setting. On many
occasions they will simply tell you to sit anywhere, but in more formal settings
the host may have an arranged seating chart so let them direct you. Often the host
will sit at the head of the table. If eating in a restaurant, you may be asked to
join a table with other people; politely ignore these people, but it's not completely
uncommon to join in conversation with others at the table either.
As you settle in to eat, there are a few rules to follow when dining in
Australia no matter the setting. The Australians eat in the continental
style, meaning the knife is in the right hand and the fork remains in the left.
Also keep your hands within sight at all times by resting your wrists on the edge
of the table. Avoid sensitive subjects, such as politics, religion, money, or even
business, as most business meals are for getting to know each other, not for talking
business. Although you should avoid these subjects, the Australians can be very
relaxed and may bring these subjects up, in which case feel free to join in.
Let your host indicate when you may begin eating and drinking. Sometimes people
just begin, but it is best to watch your host and wait for his or her indication
to start. Often times the first drink will be accompanied by a toast, like "cheers,"
or something else short. Either way, wait for others to begin before you do, for
both drinks and food.
When you finish eating, place your fork and knife together, handles facing to the
right, pointing at the 11:00 position. If eating soup, slightly push your spoon
away from you to indicate you are finished. There are no taboos on leaving food
on your plate or eating it all, so simply do what makes you most comfortable or
eat until you've eaten enough. If you eat too much, don't say "I'm
stuffed," as this indicates you're pregnant and there's probably a
better time to make such an announcement.
If eating at a restaurant in a formal situation the host is expected to pay for
everyone present, but everyone should make an effort to help pay. In more informal
settings the bill may be split so everyone pays their share or the bill is evenly
divided. If you do pay most restaurant bills include a service charge so no tip
is needed. Even if no service charge is included there is debate on whether or not
to tip. Most Australians don't tip and don't think
foreigners should either, but in restaurants catering to foreign guests most servers
expect a tip. Ultimately if you tip is at your decision, but never tip more than
10% for excellent service if no service charge is included.
Australia has nearly every popular international drink
available, but on the non-alcoholic side they are best known for their coffee and
coffee culture. Among these coffees, Italian-influenced drinks are the most popular
including espresso to latte as coffee shops are found in every city and town. Of
course juices, soft drinks, and tea are also common, especially in the home.
When it comes to alcoholic beverages Australia is gaining
a better reputation for their wines with each passing year. Although numerous varietals
are grown and produced, the country is best known for their Shiraz. Beers and breweries
are also common in the country as there are numerous local and regional breweries.
Although "Fosters" is well known outside of Australia, most locals prefer
"Victoria Bitter" and the small breweries, which there are many. Australia
isn't known for their liquors although they produce a large number of liquors;
they also have all the popular international imported liquors. Perhaps the most
popular hard liquor in Australia is rum.
Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink in Australia,
but check with locals for any particular regional differences. Also, many people
may have troubles adjusting to the local tap water as it will most certainly be
different from what your system is used to.