Moving to a new country pushes you out of your comfort zone, there’s no denying it, and never more so in the food that you encounter on a daily basis.
As Australia is a unique island continent, our influences come from all over the world, which you’ll find when you take your first trip to the supermarket. While you’ll recognise a lot of the everyday items that you see on the shelves, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the more ‘Aussie’ items that you might never have heard of, or ones that might make you take a second look.
Sure, you might have heard of Vegemite, but have you tried it? While its mouth-puckering saltiness can be too much for some people, you can’t miss giving it a go. This yeast extract spread was originally created from leftover brewers’ yeast, and is a naturally high source of vitamin B—but despite this unappetising description it’s grown to be one of Australia’s most well-known national and international icons.
How to eat Vegemite
Some might find it strange that we eat our national animal, but you can find kangaroo meat in both the butcher and pet food section of most grocery stores. You’ll even find products made of kangaroo skin in tourist shops, like the curious kangaroo scrotum coin purse. Yes, these exist.
Lamingtons are one of the most popular Australian cakes. Large cubes of sponge cake coated in chocolate, then covered in coconut, you can find them in every supermarket, every bake sale, and at every office morning tea. Either in its pure form, or stuffed with jam and cream, lamingtons are a unique Australian must-try.
The basic ingredients of oats, sugar, flour, butter, and golden syrup, come together into a sweet biscuit with a proud Australian (and New Zealand) history. Named for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), these biscuits were allegedly created as a way to use available resources to make a treat that would travel from families in Australia across the oceans and arrive, still edible, to ANZAC soldiers serving in the First World War. Their popularity has never wavered, and are still an Aussie favourite today.
While the name is unassuming, Arnott’s Shapes are the most-loved snack biscuit from every Australian’s childhood, and a crowd favourite wherever you go. Each Shape is a different, well, shape, and flavour, ranging from the wildly popular Barbecue or Pizza Shapes, to the less-loved Savoury Shapes. They’re so popular, in fact, that when the company changed their recipe Australians petitioned to change it back—and they did.
The Australian ice cream selection
Aussies love their ice cream, and there’s nothing better on a hot day than cooling down with a cheeky iced treat. Australia’s selection is top-notch, and shops feature names you may have never heard of, like the universally-loved Paddle Pop, the refreshing Zooper Dooper, and the eternal crowd favourite, the Golden Gaytime.
Other Aussie choccies, lollies, and bikkies
For those not familiar with Australian slang, that’s ‘Australian chocolates, candy, and biscuits.’ As well as the famous Tim Tams, some unique products you’ll come across to satisfy your sweet tooth are Mint Slice biscuits, the candy bars Flake, Cherry Ripe, and Violet Crumble, and the chocolate-coated caramels called Fantales.
How to do a ‘Tim Tam Slam’
Meat pies, sausage rolls, and… Chiko Rolls?
Meat pies and sausage rolls need no explanation. They’re the classic Australian meal-on-the-go, and are available in every bakery around the nation. You can find them at every Australian Rules football game (see our guide to Sport in Your City), frozen in the supermarket freezer aisle, or heated at your local petrol station, and always come with a squeezable sachet of tomato sauce.
The Chiko Roll, on the other hand, is somewhat of a mystery to Australians and international guests alike. Legend has it that it’s based on the egg roll (or spring roll, in Australia), but supersized to be a meal on its own. Regardless of its mystery, Aussie love them, and this beef and vegetable-stuffed icon can usually be found wherever you’d get a sausage roll.
The Bunnings sausage sizzle
While the idea of putting a sausage in bread isn’t unique to Australia, the environment in which it’s delivered certainly is. Australia’s leading household hardware chain, Bunnings, are giant warehouses full of hardware supplies, power tools, gardening goods, and home renovation items (some also uniquely Australian—where else would you find a Hills Hoist?).
Every weekend, community groups and charities are able to operate a barbecue out the front of Bunnings stores nationwide, as a fundraiser for their cause. This is known as a ‘sausage sizzle’—a sausage in bread, covered in fried onions and doused in tomato sauce. Aussies around the country flock to Bunnings on the weekend out of necessity and are subsequently greeted with the mouth-watering scent of barbecued sausages and onions on arrival. Whether you get one at the start of your shop or at the end—or both—getting a Bunnings sausage sizzle is an institution that’s become uniquely Aussie.