We are wrapping up a month-long stay in Australia and I thought I’d share some observations with you.
Obviously, nobody can totally understand and certainly not capture the entirety of a society in one blog post. This is not that. This is just some things I noticed during my time there.
One of the first things I noticed was the diversity of the population. I think many assume, as I did, that Australia is mainly Caucasian with an occasional person of Aboriginal or Polynesian origin. Instead, Australia is a mix of people from literally all over the world. There is a heavy Asian influence, but there are also people from India, the Middle East, and all over Europe. The Aussie (said Ozzie, by the way) accent is interspersed with all kinds of other accents. There weren’t quite as many Africans and even less Latinos, but they were represented also. A pretty standard question for us when meeting someone became “where are you from.” That didn’t mean what part of Australia are they from. It meant where did they or their parents immigrate from.
With that ethnic diversity comes some lovely flavorful food: Turkish, Indonesian, Thai, Korean, Indian, American… The list is practically endless. Their food is very good and flavorful and fresh.
A recurring theme is meat pies. They come in many varieties. All of the ones I tried were very good. They are like the fresh non-preservative version of Hot Pockets, but they actually taste good.
Their coffee is mostly espresso with an occasional instant. A plunger coffee (French press) was seldom seen, and I only saw a standard coffee-brewing-pot in one place, a breakfast buffet that was at a tourist destination and trying to appeal to many different appetites. A really good medium coffee is A$4.50 (about $3.25 American dollars). If you take your own reusable insulated cup they give a A$0.50 discount. Starbucks tried to make it there and failed miserably. The little coffee shops and convenience stores all serve delicious coffee, much better than Starbucks, and cheaper.
Along with the wonderful coffee comes lovely pastries and desserts. I didn’t eat any that I didn’t like. One specialty is their pavlova, an egg white dessert filled with sugared cream and drizzled with passion fruit sauce.
The restaurants don’t give free refills on drinks. Most places your drink is just a can or bottle, self-served out of a refrigerator. The places that do serve your drink in a cup don’t give you ice because then you wouldn’t get your money’s worth. They also supply the table with glasses and a large glass bottle full of water. This is nice, since refills aren’t free. As far as variety, they have the standard flavors of Coke, Diet Coke, an occasional Pepsi, and many other flavors such as Ginger Beer, Lemon Lime & Bitters, and Mexican soft drinks.
They are not very big on soups, which I missed. The few soups I did taste were very good, but that wasn’t a menu staple.
There are some strange combinations that seem very odd to an American’s tastebuds, such as putting beets on a hamburger. Pumpkin is eaten as a vegetable, not an ingredient in desserts. They eat in the European way with the knife in the dominant hand and the fork in the non-dominant hand.
If you want ketchup you ask for tomato sauce. On their menus their “entrees” are our “appetizers” and their “mains” are our “entrees.” Their portions were generally plenty but not gargantuan like many American restaurants serve. The exception was a place we went called “California Cafe” where the portions were very large. Below is a picture of their “Mac and Cheese Burger” that would be impossible to fit in the mouth of any human without mutant jaws. The food was very fresh and flavorful everywhere we went.
I have heard that there is a push in their political system to shut down immigration, but it hasn’t happened yet. I imagine that even if it does, the variety of flavors have become a solid part of Australian culture which is a beautiful and delicious thing.