Just What Is Australia’s National Dish? There Isn’t Really One

When it comes to choosing a dish that represents Australia as a nation, us Australians have always been divided on this. There are so many foods we associate with our country. A few months ago, the Asian Cup 2015 tournament hosted by Australia chose the meat pie as Australia’s favourite food. But a few years ago, 8,000 Australians voted roast lamb as our national dish, with the meat pie coming in second.

No matter which way you turn this plate of avocado on toast, it looks the same | Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry.

No matter which way you turn this plate of avocado on toast, it looks the same | Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry.

As a kid, I never ate meat pie. In fact, the first time I had a meat pie was about five years ago. One afternoon while walking around a shopping centre, I was hungry and on a whim bought a snack-sized beef pie from Michel’s Pattiserie, a rather fancy, pricey bakery. The pie was piping hot and as my teeth sunk into the semi-crispy brown crust, and a savoury taste filled my mouth. Couldn’t decide if the meat tasted like beef. I chewed.

What should Australia’s national dish be? A dish we all eat today or have eaten at some point, or at least heard of? Certainly most of us (in Australia) know what a pie is. We see meat pies everywhere. We can get our hands on it almost everywhere here – at the supermarket, 7-11, food court, offered as side dishes in restaurants.

A dish we eat on special occasions or on public holidays? When we’re in celebratory mood, we like throwing barbeques and cooking sausages on the grill, and then eating the sausages with white bread. Sausage rolls, chiko rolls and yes, the meat pie are also typical foods Australians like to eat during festive times – easy to prepare (microwave, ready-to-eat), leaving more time for merry-making.

Should our national dish be traditional, something we loved eating when we were young and still like eating today? Food that has sentimental value? When I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of fairy bread and BBQ Shapes biscuits, and so did my classmates. Mention these foods to a random Aussie on the street and chances are they’ll go on a trip down memory lane in their minds.

Should a national dish be one that originated in Oz, made in Australia? Like Tim Tams. Kangaroo meat. Vegemite on toast. After all, Australian made, Australian owned, proudly Australian. Proudly ours.

Or can it be a dish we borrowed from another culture and put an “Aussie” spin to it (which isn’t a crime but simply cultural appropriation)? Australia was colonised by the British in the 1700s and at one point relied on food from England for survival. I suppose that’s where we started having a strong liking for fish and chips, pavlovas, lamingtons, chicken parmas and spaghetti Bolognese and see them on countless menus in restaurants today. And for generations.

These days many Australians identify with a diverse nation and a fair go, albeit a few broad Aussie stereotypes. Can our “Australianess” and diversity really be reflected in one single dish? Maybe in the dim sim, which is inspired by a dumpling and usually fried to suit the Western palate? Or in salt and pepper squid as Chinese Australian chef Poh Ling Yeow says is perfect for eating by the beach with its strong ethnic-like flavours? Maybe.

But more so maybe not. Australia is a nation of migrants. A multicultural nation where everyone has different gastronomic palates, food preferences and diets. On the back of different cultural communities comes different cultural cuisines. It’s no surprise many non-Western dishes or Asian/Indian/Italian/Greek inspired dishes like the dim sim and salt and pepper squid are popular, part of the Australian diet alongside the meat pie.

And it’s hard to choose one single dish that we’ll all actually eat. If you’re vegetarian or a Buddhist who doesn’t eat meat, then the meat pie might not be your cup of tea. Sometimes picking a national dish can lead to so-called fights over food, perpetuating the “Us and Them” dichotomy. Last year there was a petition pledging a dim sim statue be built in the city of Melbourne to honour it as a national food icon but it seemed no one took it too seriously.

Meat pie. A popular breakfast and lunch option with Aussies.

Meat pie. A popular breakfast and lunch option with Aussies.

Culture evolves over time, and so does food. So do our tastebuds as we try traditional foods we’ve never tried and newer hybrid, fusion cuisine. Sadly, sometimes we forget where our food is from; we forget cultures. For instance, many Australians barely have a clue what bush tucker food is.

Did I like eating the meat pie at the food court? Yes, I liked it and finished the whole thing with the tomato sauce that came with it. But it’s not something I’d eat again unless I have to.

I grew up eating other kinds of “Australian” foods at home. My Chinese Malaysian mum would make spaghetti without cheese and top it with half a bottle of tomato sauce on occasions. Fish and chips without mayonaise was also on our dinner menu back then. But I still ate these dishes anyway, alongside my migrant mum and Australian-born brother who really liked them.

Sometimes we love certain kinds of food, and sometimes we don’t. At the end of the day, it’s how we share food and appreciate food that brings us all together.

What foods do you associate with Australia? What’s your country’s iconic dish?

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180 thoughts on “Just What Is Australia’s National Dish? There Isn’t Really One

  1. ” it’s how we share food and appreciate food that brings us all together.” You said it all right there Mabel. Personally I’m a HUGE fan of rack of lamb and most any other kinds of lamb but must admit I did not like the meat pies. Now Dim Sum – THAT’s something I could definitely get behind :-). Whatever the choice, I’m with you all the way on the sharing and appreciation among friends and family.

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    • Don’t like meat pies, I don’t fault you there. A lot of meat pies out there are processed, it’s hard to come across a good tasting one.

      Dim sum and dim sim are actually two different things, very easy to confuse the two since they sound the same. Dim sum is what you eat at yum cha. Dim sim is like a dumpling, but an Aussie-styled one and fried. I am not a big fan of that 😉

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  2. I’m still a strong fan of the hot pie and chips as well as the sausage roll as my first thoughts when I think fair dinkum tucker. Then my mind wanders to roast meat or a hot prawn sandwich with real butter and white bread or a plate of steak and chips or steak and three vegetables. As much as I like other cuisines, I don’t think Asian, Mediterranean or anywhere else other than Anglo for my Australian cuisine. Do I want to see it change? Not really. I accept though that Australia is changing for better and for worse. With that the food needs to change as well.

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    • “fair dinkum tucker” Now there’s a phrase I haven’t heard before. But I love it. I love sausage rolls too, though I must say some cafes in Melbourne serve very unappetising ones for a hefty price…some taste like meatball 😦 In the very early days, Australia was a land made up predominantly of Anglo descendents, so perhaps that’s one reason our national dish(es) always has had a Western influence to it. And a lot of people still see Australia as a predominantly Western country, hence the association of our nation with the meat pie, sausage rolls, hot dog on white bread, all that good stuff.

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  3. In the course of his working life, my husband travelled overseas frequently, and his first request when he returned home was for a cup of tea, and bread and butter spread with Vegemite!
    I grew up in a household where a midday Sunday roast dinner was mandatory.
    These days, I still bake the occasional roast dinner (for one) but my preference is for a nasi goreng or the variation of stir fried vegetables with slivers of chicken or beef. (I LOVE fresh vegetables)
    I know of very few people who would have a meat pie for breakfast, although many Aussie tradesmen would have a smoko of pie smothered in tomato sauce and tinned green mushy peas (YUK!)about 9am.
    Australia’s celebratory dessert would have to be a soft centred Pavlova, smothered with fresh cream and strawberries.
    The influx of migrants from Europe and then south east Asia has certainly improved the country’s cuisine.
    To me a good meal is a variety of well prepared foods shared with friends who provide great conversation and debate.
    Australia is a land of migrants, and thankfully we have adapted away from the stodgy stews and rice puddings of yesterday.

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    • Very interesting to hear, Maureen. Occasional roast dinner for one, but mixing that up with fried rice, all cooked at home. I wonder how common is it with other (Caucasian) Australians in their households these days. You have an adventurous palate.

      I love pavlova. There have been arguments that it’s a New Zealand dish…but I think Aussies have come to claim it as their own. I like how you say it’s our celebratory dessert. Creme brulee seems to be a popular dessert with Aussies as well, but I’m pretty sure that it originated elsewhere.

      “stodgy stews” I can’t remember the last time I ate stew in Australia. In fact, I don’t think I have. It’s probably not popular with the generation today.

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    • Ahhh, mashed potato! That’s something very English. Baked potato seems to be popular with Aussies too – it’s always sold at food courts here. I’ve never tried it.

      “fave-roo”. Love that word!

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  4. I think several nations struggle with this question. People ask me questions about popular Canadian dishes and I sometimes struggle to come up with a list that answers the question.

    I can’t say that I know a lot about Australian cuisine but I probably would associate kangaroo meat with Australia, purely for the fact that the animal is native to Australia.

    Oh, and I have tried Tim Tams recently and I loved them! 🙂

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    • I heard poutine fries is a very popular Canadian food. It looks messy, but oh so delicious and one day I hope to try it.

      Yes…quite a few of us Australians eat kangaroo meat, and ironically the kangaroo is our iconic national emblem. However, there are some Aussies who can’t stand the thought of eating kangaroo meat. I hear kangaroo meat is very popular with the Chinese, and when I lived in Singapore it was always on the menu in fancy restaurants.

      Glad you like Tim Tams. They are wonderful 🙂

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        • Poutine doesn’t sound too hard to make. So long as you have a lot of cheese, you should be good to make it 🙂

          The kangaroo I’ve eaten was very lean previously tastes and looks very similar to beef. I could barely tell the difference. So you are probably right in that it has every little fat. But it is quite a pricey dish and considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.

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  5. Its interesting when we look at “national dishes”, how many of them look suspiciously like they are designed to use up leftovers: Pizza, Paella, Nasi Goring, Irish stew, Shepard’s Pie, spring rolls etc.
    None of them feature expensive cuts of meat or other prized ingredients. French snails and frog legs are something you can find in the fields.

    If we are going to look for a truly national Australian dish, perhaps we need to look at some modest ingredients.

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    • That, Graham, is a VERY interesting observation. Never thought of it. Grab last night’s leftovers and use them as pizza toppings or stuffing in your sausage rolls and meat pies and so on… I don’t know if this is common practice in local restaurants, though. It could be.

      Ribs and steak are very popular with the Aussie palate – better cuts of meat. Then again, I don’t think it originated in Australia.

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  6. Hi Mabel,

    It is very interesting to note that Australian cuisine is as varied as the people who made Australia their home. Apparently they carried the recipes of their favorite dishes along with them.

    Talk about my country of birth, India! You would be amazed at the variety of Indian dishes, which change with every State and every festival. If we have ten festivals, there would be ten kinds of sweets to celebrate! While there is no officially anointed National dish, you will find a wide assortment…all of them having a different taste. The desserts too have a typical Indian style and taste. Though western food has entered India in a big way but the traditional dishes still dominate and are prepared with great pride.

    Thanks for taking me down the memory lane! I can almost feel the taste of ghevar and jalebi, two delicacies I love.

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    • When I think of India and food, I think of prata and curry. Of course, as you mentioned, Indian food is more than that and more than I will probably ever know and get to try. Sounds like India is the country that has an endless variety of sweet foods – and different levels of sweetness 🙂

      You are so right in saying that Australian is as varied as the people who have made this country their home. Very well put. And most of us have embraced it.

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  7. I spent a few years of my childhood living in a milk bar and had more than my fair share of meat pies. When it came to a choice of yesterday’s donuts or yesterday’s meat pie for breakfast, the meat pie won every time. I haven’t had it as often since then as there are generally other food choices around.

    For me, there is no other food that I identify more strongly with Australia. Given its reputation as a sporting event food, it is probably appropriate that it was chosen as Australia’s national dish for the Asian Cup.

    But what attributes must a dish possess in order to qualify as a national dish? In addition to identification with the nation, perhaps levels of consumption and reflection of national character. Meat pie consumption has fallen since there is now a greater choice of food available and Australia no longer has the masses of manual workers with nowhere to go for lunch other than a small take away shop. It’s also worth considering whether the meat pie’s image of simplicity and unpretentiousness is what Australia wants to project to the world as it tries to be something more than an exporter of minerals and farm products.

    Perhaps the meat pie is a good reflection of an Australia of bygone years and may still be a fair choice as national dish now, but we’ll have to find a new one for the future.

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    • I smiled when I read that you chose the meat pie over a doughnut for breakfast. The former is sickly sweet. Have that for breakfast and you’re likely to feel your energy levels dip an hour later. Though I must say, with the opening of a certain doughnut shop in the city some months back, doughnuts for breakfast is very tempting to me.

      Very good breakdown on why the meat pie tends to be seen as Australia’s national dish. You are right. The meat pie has an image of simplicity – easy to cook, cheap, filling and tasty, and usually eaten on casual occasions while watching sport or at a backyard BBQ. In a sense it has the Aussie ‘laid-back’ aura all around it.

      I suppose it’s a dish that’s eaten more as a snack these days. I’ve seen my (now previous) boss eating a fair few meat pies during the morning tea break at work.

      When we speak of the Aussie meat pie, we usually think of it as a beef pie (then again, who knows what goes into processed meat these days). Certainly not everyone eats beef. My mum doesn’t. So as you mentioned, we might need to pick another national dish.

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  8. Never really thought about this, but now that I think about it, isn’t the dishes you mentioned similar to England’s national dishes? Mention Australia and I will think of fish and chips or roast lamb.

    It’s easier in Malaysia I suppose. Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai, Char Kuay Teow and some others 🙂

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    • You are correct. Pavlova, fish and chips, sausages on bread, they are all very English dishes. It’s all very confusing – the British and us Aussies seem to call them our own :/

      Those are certainly Malaysian foods. Roti canai with curry or with sugar. Those were served to me in primary school there 😉

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  9. Do you know Britian’s national dish is Chicken tikka masala? Apparently this Indian standard was crafted in England! The States is entirely too large and varied to have ONE national dish, so many States have their own honorable dishes. Of course, some cities have their specialities as well, like Boston’s baked beans or Cincinnati’s chili.

    When I think about Australia I think about Tim Tams and Veggiemite. I enjoy both foods. I think about BBQs, as well, and reading your post confirmed it. Aussies are big meat eaters. But I had no idea that they ate ‘roo meat. Yikes! And meat pies? Soooo English. I think the Land of Oz should think of a better one than that 😛

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    • No, Lani. I did NOT know chicken tikka masala is Britain’s national dish, and that it’s an Indian-influenced dish crafted there. Amazing. I guess that’s similar to the Aussie dim sim – crafted by Chinese migrants in Oz.

      When I think of the States, I think of chilli cheese hot dogs, fried ice cream, fried Mars bars, fried doughnuts…anything fried and oily, really. No surprise that KFC originated from the States…and you guys have the secret recipe!

      I, do not like Vegemite 😀 And I hear a lot of Americans aren’t fans of it. Have to agree with you meat pies are somewhat English. Though a lot of Aussies don’t like to admit it.

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  10. I really do enjoy your posts Miss Mabel. 🙂

    My colleagues and I ordered noodles for lunch today to celebrate Chinese New Year, we were all talking about the diverse foods we find in Australia and whether we Asians would think our roast lamb or pies were delicious or disgusting. This conversation went into deciding on what the dish of Australia is, especially now. Everyone said they thought a meat, prob lamb pie with peas was the Aussie feed of choice.
    Sooooo…. great minds think alike huh?! 🙂

    I remember when my mom started making spaghetti, my dad was not amused at all, funny to think Italian foods were a foreign concept. My father passed away 15 years ago, so he missed out on all the delicious Asian influence in our foods. Wow… tangent much! LOL! 🙂

    What foods do I associate with Australia? Honestly, for me, pretty much any food with an Asian influence. But as a kid, roast lamb was the protein of choice, 15 years eating it means I no longer enjoy it. Not sure what our iconic dish is tho.

    Anyways, wishing you a super week ahead lady. Sorry about the uber tangent fueled comment.

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  11. hmmm… fish and chips? lol. or maybe vegemite.

    i wondered about that at some point during my first few months’ stay here in australia too. i mean, i don’t know if there’s one particular australian delicacy that immediately pops up in people’s mind if you ask them that question.

    but you gotta admit there’s heaps of restaurants that offer really good chinese/vietnamese/indian, etc food, though. =D

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    • I always thought fish and chips originated in the UK, and that the best fish and chips are found over there 😀

      You are right. Australia is very divided on what foods are true blue Aussie and what are not. Probably why I had such a hard time writing this post. So many varieties of food are now part of the Australian diet that a lot of us have a multicultural palate.

      I always wonder why avocado on toast isn’t considered an Aussie dish. I mean, it’s on so many menus here…

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  12. I never had meat pie but I surely would love to try it! Here in Germany it is hard to say also what the national dish is as it really depends on the region. For example here up in the north there is much sea food (dont like it) and it the south it is something entirely different (not sure though as I can’t understand them when they talk to due the dialect…)

    I think it is easier to say what a regional dish is rather than a national one. The people are just too different from place to place at least in Europe. In Australia on the other hand it could be due to its history that there is no real regional difference but then again I have no idea 🙂

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    • Never…had a…meat pie? :O I find it hard to believe because I always thought it was very popular in Europe! Maybe it’s only popular in the UK. I’m sure you can get it from your supermarket in the freezer section or from Costco. Even the 7-11. Tell me if you do try it. Or you can make it, I don’t believe it’s that hard.

      “… easier to say what a regional dish is rather than a national one”. I think that’s a great way to think of it. And maybe break it down into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. Climate and availability of produce affects what dishes we can cook, and surely these factors vary from region to region.

      In Australia, we generally eat the same foods all over the country – meat pies, BBQs, pavlovas (yum!) and so on. Just that up north in Queenland bananas grow there more…and I think that state gets more banana bread 😀

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        • No idea what is…banana bread? It’s also quite popular in Singapore and Malaysia. You might want to mention banana bread to your wife, she might know. Apparently it’s a very popular sweet thing to make at home in Asia 🙂

          Savoury pies are unheard of in some countries, only sweet pies. I’m sure Germany knows what apple pie is 😉

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            • If you ever have a bunch of bananas turning black at home, it’s time for you and your wife to make some banana bread. I am sure Nathan will love it 🙂

              I love black forest cake. Can’t get enough of it, especially if it has cream in between the cake layers.

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              • I think only when it got the cream between the layer it is a real black forest cake but I am also not too sure right now. Once I tried black forest cake in a Chinese coffee shop…well it was terrible. The cream was not real, the cherry was fake too!

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                • I also think a real black forest cake must have the cream in between the layers. Or else it will be a regular sponge cake. You know your food, Crazy. I won’t be surprised if I see more food posts from you in the future 😉

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  13. I had precisely that problem when I threw an Australia day party the other month. I opted for making lamingtons, pavlova, and ANZAC biscuits. I really miss meat pie and eating Fish and Chips… but that’s the funny thing hey… I wouldn’t think that it’s Australian! I must say, ate alot of meat pie when I was there. In the pot. Love it!

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    • Australia Day party, that sounds interesting and something I’ve never done. I suppose many people associate fish and chips with Australia because they presume many of us live beside the blue sea all the time, the blue sea that has a lot of fish.

      Meat pies are quite common in other Western countries too. I wonder why Australia tends to claim it as it’s own.

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      • I never celebrated Australia Day until this year 🙂 sure there is the Triple J top 100 but then again i don’t even listen to music. In Sydney, my friends go snorkelling at Shelley beach and listen to radio. That’s my impression 🙂

        Meat pies… Lamb… Shrimp on barbie… I hear a strong Australian bloke accent in my head 😀

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  14. That meat pie looks yummy, but not for breakfast. 🙂 I think food is so universal these days, it’s hard to pinpoint a national dish anymore. I enjoy trying everything, wherever I go, except fried insects of course. 😀

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    • “food is so universal these days”. Spot on, Sylvia. Everywhere you go, you’ll find different varieties of cuisine served around you.

      No meat pie for breakfast? Maybe for brunch then. Meat pies in Australia are usually a bit bigger that the size of your average small bowl, pretty sizable.

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  15. Being an American, I’m not all that familiar with the Australian cuisine. If the US has a national dish, I’m not aware of it. Chances are it’s roast turkey though because it is THE dish for Thanksgiving Day when we celebrate our migration from Europe (several countries involved in this) to the US.

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    • When I think of the US, chilli cheese dogs comes to mind, as well as fried doughnuts. But now that you mention turkey, maybe it could be turkey. Turkey isn’t as popular as beef, pork and chicken in Australia. Or perhaps pancakes.

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  16. I know this is going to sound really stereotypical Mabel, but I hear that iconic phrase by Crocodile Dundee saying ‘throw some shrimps on the barbie’ 😀 Seriously though, now that I think about it, you raise an excellent point here, as come to think of it, I couldn’t tell you what food I associate Australia with. But I like the way you can get such a diverse selection. And your photos certainly do make me hungry since it is dinner time here as I type 🙂 Of course, for this Brit, it goes without saying that Shepherd’s Pie, Fish & Chips, Bangers and Mash and Sunday roast are typical fare here…but I’m glad to say that we also eat a lot of Asian food and I, along with millions, adore it! Great post Mabel, fun and thought-provoking. Have a lovely day…and a nice, tasty lunch whatever you choose 🙂 ❤ 😀

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    • “shrimp on the barbie”. A lot of (white) Aussies still say that today. It’s a phrase that hasn’t actually gotten old after all these years and I think everyone, regardless of race, here loves hearing it. I do. Though I must say the first thing we usually throw on the BBQ grill is sausage, then maybe meat patties.

      I love Shepherd’s Pie but I can never finish it all, very filling. Just like Bangers and Mash. Australians love potato, I’m surprised to not see these dishes around too often on menus here. Glad you like Asian food, Sherri. I love it too – exciting strong flavours that tantalise your tastebuds. Thank you for the well wishes, Sherri. I hope you had a good dinner, and have a good weekend ahead 🙂 ❤

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  17. Pretty hard to land on 1 national dish when a country has more migrants…

    Dim sum law that was proposed? Wow.
    Like you, I enjoy a well executed meat pie but it’s not my natural preference. Quite often I find the crust heavy. So maybe if a creative chef, used phyllo sheets instead…

    My partner’s son runs a butcher and sandwich shop in Toronto. He occasionally sells handmade chicken or rabbit meat pies. http://stockintradeto.com/ It’s actually his handmade sausages that are very popular which is not surprising.

    I’m very particular about fish and chips since I find a lot of deep fried fish has too much batter. And love vinegar and salt on it , not ketchup.

    I am not certain if Canada has a national dish. But I did do a blog post a few months ago that highlighted some foods that Canada produces a lot of: maple syrup, bison.

    Happy chewing!

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    • Yeah, the dim sim statue to honor this as a national food icon (note: not dim sum, that’s yum cha. dim sim is a separate Aussie, Chinese-inspired dumpling creation). I don’t particularly like the dim sim as it is fried and greasy.

      Those handmade sausages sound delicious. If I ever pass by Toronto, I’ll pay your partner’s son a visit…for a free pie 😉

      I’ve heard that poutine is Canada’s national dish, no? Then again, you can get hot chips everywhere…

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      • Poutine is actually the type of cheesy-gravy doled out over hot chips. Yes, I’ve had it twice when I visited Quebec. I’m not sure it is a true national dish since it’s not ubiquitous across Canada.

        Maple syrup is universally liked across Canada and found across Canada but only drawn from sugar maple trees in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick. These are the provinces with the right weather conditions and large maple tree forests.

        Only a few northeastern U.S. states produce maple syrup also. (Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire).

        It takes special winter into spring conditions when the maple syrup naturally runs from the tree.

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        • That is interesting to hear about poutine. It sounds like a food that you get at festivals and fairs across the country, though. I’ve never associated maple syrup with Canada. Then again, it’s not something that popular in Australia, and pancakes aren’t a big hit here. I’ve had that a few times with pancakes and I find it very, very sweet. Can’t imagine eating it with anything else.

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          • I don’t think that’s proper pancake making. It shouldn’t have much sugar inside the batter itself. My partner is very expert at making crepes from scratch. 🙂 We have it with our homemade fruit compote.

            Maple syrup tastes thinner, not as sweet….as corn syrup which a lot of cheap restaurants, fairs, serve over pancakes. Maple syrup tastes more complex….as expected from a tree.

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            • Maple syrup not as sweet…then I don’t think I’ve had authentic maple syrup in Australia, then. All the sauces and syrups I’ve had with pancakes here taste very, very sweet.

              I would love to try your partner’s crepes someday 🙂

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  18. What a good topic, and I can see by all the responses that everyone else liked it too. Maybe each nation (or even each region) needs a signature dish that has a name that’s evocative of the home country. All you Aussies have fabulous names for things! I’m afraid that in the southern US it would probably be grits (eww, or boiled peanuts – never tried ’em) I’m from the midwest US so in my home region it would be corn on the cob.

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    • Each region or even city having their own dish is a great suggestion. Food tastes and preferences vary depending on climate and the availability of ingredients around us. I heard pizza tastes different from state to state in the US – and some pizzas way bigger than others.

      Aussies tend to have a knack for giving nicknames to a lot of things 🙂

      Corn on the cob. Come to think of it, it’s something I associate the States, especially at fairs. Boiled peanuts? Those are popular in Asia and I quite like them, though some of them can be very soft and mushy which I don’t like.

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  19. I associate beetroot and carrot on hamburgers with Oz, as well as chip sandwiches! XDDDD Those were the only foods that really shocked me when I moved there, haha!
    I think your point “At the end of the day, it’s how we share food and appreciate food that brings us all together.” is spot on! Australia has such a rich mix of culturesーI had the best Greek food I’ve ever had *anywhere* thereーand that should be celebrated. Why choose one dish when you have so many! Whether they’re Australian-born or adopted and adjusted, as long as people can enjoy it, it’s all good. 😀
    There are a lot of typical Swedish foods, but of course many of them have had outside origins, or are similar to the neighbors’ (Finland, Norway etc). But the way Swedes prepare/eat it makes it original for them. 🙂

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    • Beetroot on burgers, now that is certainly something you can find here! But in all honesty, I really do not like the taste of beetroot. Chip sandwiches? I’m thinking of the times I’ve seen people putting McDonalds fries into their burgers at the food court 😀 And what about dipping their fries into the sundaes…. And stacking one burger on top of the other…

      Exactly. Too many dishes, why single one and make it the king of foods in Aussieland. Greek food in Melbourne is really good. Chinese food isn’t too bad if you know where to eat in Chinatown.

      Swedish food…meatballs? The only place where I can think of that serves Swedish food in Melbourne is IKEA….but I’m sure there are other places too, just that I don’t know of 🙂

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      • Yeah, Swedish food isn’t really restaurant food. It’s fish/meat dishes you have at home. There are 3 Swedish restaurants in Tokyo alone, but it’s weird. Maybe for lunch you’d eat that sort of “home cooking”, but for dinner? You’d be crazy (or a tourist)!

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        • I just googled Swedish food and it’s showing me meatball after meatball photos 😀 3 Swedish restaurants in Tokyo sounds nice, actually. There are some in Melbourne, but not near the city where I live from my knowledge. I’m the kind who doesn’t like eating out for two days in a row or more. When I’m on holiday and am forced to eat outside, I’ll eat small portions.

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  20. I honestly don’t know much about Australian cuisines so from now on, I will associate that one in the photo. Wait. I think any food with avocado in or on it would be something Australian. 😉

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    • Australians like to eat avocado a lot. Fresh avocado for breakfast and lunch is very popular here – avocado on toast and avocado salad. I am surprised no one here has suggested it as our national dish. Then again, people all over the world eat avocado.

      Like

  21. I am a vegetarian but have no problem with the national food being the hot dog here in the states; a thoroughly disgusting concoction of all parts of the cow that would normally be thrown away as inedible! I’d love to try that avocado on toast. One of our favorite breakfasts here (our house- my wife and I) is avocado and pink grapefruit. Nothing else added.

    Like

    • I completely forgot that the hot dog is a very popular food in the States, sold at all those fairs around the country. Here in Australia the only time we seem to see it is during BBQs, though I must say there’s a gourmet hot dog eatery near where I live. You are right in terms of what goes into a sausage, which is why I rarely eat those things.

      Very healthy breakfast you and your wife tend to have. I’ve never tried avocado and pink grapefruit before. It sounds delicious. And very easy to prepare.

      Like

  22. I was just in Australia, and remember having a discussion on what constitutes “Australian cuisine” and couldn’t really identify anything in particular. Didn’t know that meat pies are so popular. As you said, there are certain foods that we associate with Australia like vegemite, kangaroo meat, etc. but couldn’t think of many dishes. I totally love the Asian fusion cuisine culture in Melbourne BTW. Why is it more common there than in other parts of the country. Is it because of the demographics?

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    • That is a very good point. Vegemite, meat pie, Tim Tams, they aren’t dishes but more like snacks, Australian snacks. I too find it hard to pinpoint a certain dish that is uniquely Aussie. Many dishes like fish and chips seem to have a British connection to them.

      Melbourne is the most livable city in the world! It’s a state very popular with tourists and for it’s cultural diversity, so perhaps that’s why fusion and hybrid cuisine is more popular here than in the other states.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. My Texas American mother made spaghetti without cheese and put ketchup on top.
    Seventy years ago when I was a kid — that was considered Italian!
    Immigrant countries sometimes get to eat lots of good things. (The meat pie, though, isn’t the dish of my dreams. More dim sum.)
    That salad photo is a really clever take on the challenge!

    Like

    • That is hilarious how your mother made spaghetti – with ketchup! Just like my mum! Sometimes she’d use half the bottle of tomato sauce and claim that that’s not enough sauce for the noodles.

      Dim sum is delicious. Mention dim sum, I think of Hong Kong. The city for yum cha. Thank you for your nice words on my photo. You are very kind.

      Like

  24. sorry for being kinda rude, but the real question is who is the Australian for REAL,
    the white ones or the aborigin??? hence it made there’s tough question to answer about one national Australian dish
    but for me, the only australian style dish is

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    • Very good question, Dedy. The Aboriginals are the First Peoples, the rightful owners of Australian land. Sadly some of us don’t recognise that. It’s also sad that a lot of us don’t know what bush or bush tucker food is.

      Like

  25. I find it very interesting that if you ask someone from a country what their national dish is, they often can’t tell you one singular dish. If, however, you ask someone what another country’s national dish is, they’d probably have an answer. For example, if you asked me what is Canada’s national dish, I’d say anything with bacon and maple syrup. 😀
    I think it should be a point of pride that we can’t pick one thing. I love our multicultural food culture. Having said that, after four weeks in the Americas, the first thing I consumed when I got home was a pot of tea and vegemite toast. I’m such a cliché. 😉

    Like

    • “… If, however, you ask someone what another country’s national dish is, they’d probably have an answer.” Couldn’t agree with you more. And it’s funny – sort of like we seem to know other countries’ dishes better than our own.

      Aside from pride, maybe we are just too confused with what is uniquely Australian when it comes to choosing one national dish to represent our nation. Then again, at the end of the day, identity constitutes various strands of life and culture and is a complex thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Awesome post! I must say that I never thought of a dish that was traditionally from Australia. And as I have never been there, I don’t really know what you guys like to eat the most. Being such a multicultural city, I can guess that you can find food from everywhere in the World there, and that is nice 😀
    In Brazil we have a lot of traditional food (I promise to share this in a post on my blog soon), but the most famous ones is called Feijoada, basically black beans cooked with a bit of pork meat and some other things 😀 I love it!!

    Like

    • I guess Australians like to eat everything. After all, we even eat our own national icon, the kangaroo and a lot of us think it’s normal 😀 But one Australian food or snack I don’t like is Vegemite. Just don’t like how it tastes and if it’s there is only Vegemite on toast for breakfast, I will skip breakfast!

      I am so looking forward to your food post on Brazilian food. It’s not very common around Melbourne and I don’t think I’ve eaten it before 🙂 I am not a fan of pork, though, so I hope there are non-pork Brazilian dishes! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ohh my… have you eaten Kangaroo before? I think I could never do it, they are soooo cute ❤
        What is vegemite? Never heard of!
        And dont worry, in Brazil we also dont like pork much, apart from bacon hahaha
        I dont like pork either!

        Like

        • I’ve eaten kangaroo meat many times in Singapore. It’s a very popular dish on the menu in the Chinese restaurants there, and my dad always ordered it. It’s texture is similar to beef.

          Now, koala is also a national icon in Australia but at the moment the country isn’t very keen on eating koala meat.

          Vegemite is a dark brown paste that Australians usually eat with bread for breakfast or snack. I don’t like it, here it is https://www.vegemite.com.au/

          That is great. I am sure we can share our meals when we meet up for lunch some day 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ohh really? In Singapore? I would never guess there was kangaroo to eat there hahaha good to know!!

            Ohh nooo I hope they dont start eating the poor koalas too!!

            And for the description and the website I just saw, I dont think I would like vegemite either. Sounds healthy, but not tasty hahaha 😀 thank you for the explanation!

            Like

            • Fancy meat like kangaroo meat and dog meat (poor Enzzo…) are very popular in Asian cities like Singapore and especially China. They are considered delicacy meat and it’s very normal for the (well-to-do) people to eat them.

              Don’t blame you for not liking Vegemite. I will eat Nutella over Vegemite any other day. That we both can agree on 😀

              Liked by 1 person

  27. What a lovely read. 🙂 Awesome !!
    An Indian will relate to this post very easily 😉 It would be a difficult task to catalogue Indian cuisine….with 29 states and seven union territories, 780 spoken languages and 2000 dialects, our cuisine is equally variant and immense 😛

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    • Like you, I cannot stand Vegemite. If Vegemite and toast was the only thing on a breakfast menu, I’d skip the first meal of the day. Don’t think we’ll all ever agree on one dish as a nation. We could whittle it down state by state but it would be tough. Much more easier to just sit back and enjoy all the food we have.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Very interesting article and it has lots of information! I truly enjoy reading it. I was in Melbourne once and I don’t remember if I had meat pie or not. The thing I remember is at one restaurant I can order either Australia breakfast or American one, and the difference was one came with blood pudding (?). It’s been so long…

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    • Thank you for the nice words, Helen. Apart from sporting events, meat pie is always a popular item on the menu for office and event catering. Usually mini meat pies are offered during these occasions.

      Blood pudding? Perhaps it was blood sausage, that’s quite popular with Aussie breakfasts. But personally I’m not a huge fan of sausages.

      Like

  29. I could go for some meat pie now. You and your fairy bread & noodles. Mabel’s a carb junkie, I think. =) I’ll be honest. It really doesn’t matter what food we talk about here. I just love your photos of ’em.

    Like

        • So true, D. We can learn a lot about each other through the everyday things we do or our routines, our meals and eating habits included. What we eat does say a lot about how we carry ourselves and how we treat ourselves.

          Like

  30. Avocadoes were a delicacy until recent decades, so that is probably why they haven’t been more widely recognized as Australian. But the lamington….. well everyone has access to those. And the local bakery is the best place to get a DECENT meat pie.

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    • Very interesting point that avocadoes were only popular more accessible in recent times. It seems that avocadoes are popular in other countries too…so I don’t know if they’ll ever be uniquely Australian.

      I haven’t yet had a decent meat pie in Australia, to be honest. Perhaps someday I will have one at a fancy restaurant and it will blow my mind away.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Lovely post Mabel. Haven’t read all the comments but did anyone mention pavlova? There are a lot of dishes which we could think of as Australian, but when I lived overseas the three things I would make/serve were lamb in some way (roast lamb or grilled lamb cutlets), pavlova, and of course vegemite. Whenever I go to the USA, I always take Tim Tams. They expect it – even the Customs officials. They say, “Have you got anything to declare?” And we say, “Yes, some food”. And they reply “Tim Tams?”. They’d be very disappointed if we said No!

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  32. I don’t think I’ve eaten much of the food you’ve mentioned in your post but it does sound and look delicious. I hope one day I get to try the different Aussie cuisine. As for my country’s iconic dish…Hmmm, That’s a hard one…’Biryani’ is liked the most I’d say ! I mean Everybody loves it 😀
    It’s actually the National Dish of Pakistan along with ‘Nihari’. Most of our dishes are meat based so both Biryani and Nihari contain beef or chicken. You’ve to Try Biryani by the way! I think you could find it in any eastern or Indian restaurant ^.^

    P.S How are you doing? I hope you are doing great. It’s been a while!
    Love,
    Zee ❤

    Like

    • Australia does serve very delicious food and I am sure one day you’ll be able to try some Aussie foods. Maybe avocado on toast, or some Tim Tams 🙂

      Never knew Briyani is Pakistan’s national dish, alongside Nihari. I’ve never tried it but it does sound like something I would enjoy. I’ve had chicken biryani in Malaysia and Singapore many times. Maybe it tastes different in Pakistan, I’m sure it does and you probably use different spices.

      I’m not too bad, Zee, could be better. Then again, life is full of ups and downs. Thank you for asking, Zee. You are always so kind and loving 🙂 ❤

      Like

      • I bet the Malaysian one is different from the one here in India or Pakistan. We use much more and different spices. I guess Nihari will be hard to find for you there in restaurants…but hey maybe if you try to find it hard enough 😀

        I’m glad to know that you have a positive attitude despite of the ups and downs, I really hope that life soon take turn for the better for all of us ❤
        You are so kind yourself Mabel, I'm just returning the love ❤

        Like

        • Biryani in Malaysia is very yellow in colour, I think that’s the only similarity to the ones in Pakistan. In Malaysia, Biryani is usually spicy, or at least accompanied by spicy curry or sauce. I haven’t come across Nihari here in Melbourne but I can always look it up on Google. Easy 🙂

          Love right back to you, Zee ❤

          Like

    • I’m not a huge fan of kidney pie either…the thought of eating kidneys minced up or not really doesn’t sit well with me. Now that you mention kidney pie, I don’t remember seeing it on menus that often here in Australia. Maybe I need to eat out more 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Very nice post, and coming from an American point-of-view, my opinion is probably really warped about Aussie cuisine 🙂 I love meat pies, but I always view them as a UK dish…which is why I suppose Aussies like them so much. Among my friends, we always think of BBQ as Australian…putting shrimp on the barbie (from an old Paul Hogan Aussie Tourism advert). That and vegemite… I see vegemite as 100% Australian.

    I think the issue Australia has with defining their national dish is probably very similar as we have in the USA ~ as we have so many immigrants that our food is actually pretty diverse with no signature dish (although I suppose hamburgers and hotdogs may get the vote). Mexican food I think is the most loved food in the States with Chinese a close second 🙂 Cheers!

    Like

    • You love meat pies, I would never have guessed it, and it’s probably because I never really associated it with the States – but as you said, associate it with the UK. The idea of seeing BBQs as Australian has always confused me a little bit – BBQs are popular in other countries too…aren’t they.

      Australians who love Vegemite see it as 100% Aussie. Australians who don’t love Vegemite also see it as 100% Aussie. No arguments there 🙂

      Come to think of it, I too think of hot dogs, hamburgers and burgers with bright yellow cheese as American food. I also see milkshakes with ice-cream in it, truffle fries, fried ice-cream and fried chocolate as American food.

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      • Ha, my meat pies affinity only began in Hong Kong 🙂 Never had one before (except for Chicken pies which have a small niche in the States). BBQ is very big in the States as well, especially in the western states…but somehow I imagine a nice, relaxed Aussie beach BBQ.

        I think you picked the best of the American food when you mentioned milkshakes…there is nothing better, more inviting than a great milkshake. Every time I have one in another country I am extremely disappointed 🙂

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        • I’ve realised Chinese-made meat pies and Western/Australian-made meat pies taste worlds apart. Like you said, Chicken pies. The Chicken pies here in yum cha places have a bit of a sweet crust, which you will never get in a Aussie meat pie.

          Last year I had a Snickers milkshake at an American burger place in Melbourne. The others at other places are just nonsense.

          Like

  34. The best thing to share between people from different cultures is food 🙂 What can be a better thing to offer when you want to express your love and care, your good intention of being open hearted ❤

    Like

    • So true, Khan. Sharing food is a beautiful gesture of love that doesn’t really need words. All you need to do is push the plate of food to the person next to you. And we don’t even need to go out of our way to cook a dish. Even offering someone some food from our fridge like an ice-cream cone speaks volumes of friendship, kindness and love ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  35. I’d be happy if the avocado, feta and tomato on toast that you pictured became our national dish. It’s so delicious and represents our fresh produce and multicultural heritage, with ingredients from all over the world. All it needs is a bit a bit of lemon myrtle seasoning so it includes a flavour that’s native to this continent as well.

    I have to defend the humble vegemite on toast. Have you tried it spread very thinly on top of plenty of butter? I think the reason some people don’t like it is because they spread it too thick.

    More seriously, I don’t know about a national dish really, I think it’s still evolving. Maybe 50 years ago it would have been a pie & peas, but these days people eat foods from different cuisines every day of the week. I cooked a Sri Lankan curry last night and today we ate Thai beef salad for dinner.

    However I think that the BBQ is something that gets adopted by most new arrivals, so perhaps it’s a national style of cooking or way of eating, that we have, rather than a national dish. even vegetarians seem to enjoy throwing a soy pattie or vegie kebab on the barbie.

    Like

    • I too would love to see avocado on toast with a side of salad as our national dish, our at least a recognised one. So many of us love eating avocado this way, don’t know why we haven’t tried to claim it as our own. Then again, as someone mentioned in the comments, avocado is a fruit that’s only become popular in recent times.

      Actually, no. The only time I’ve tried Vegemite was by itself, and then spread quite thickly on toast. I will make sure to slather on a less generous portion with butter the next time round. Thanks for the tip 🙂

      I’ve always wondered why BBQs are associated with Australia. Maybe it’s because our weather is warm enough to have BBQs outdoors all year round. Soy pattie? I’ve never heard of that, it sounds interesting and something I’d like to try.

      Like

      • I never saw an avocado as a child, although perhaps that was because we lived in the country. I was around 18 the first time I ate one, with just lemon & salt. Then for a while I was in the habit of having it on toast for breakfast. Still love it.

        Good luck with the vegemite, I do realise that you still may not like it 😉

        Like

        • I’m like you, Maamej. Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the 90s, I never saw an avocado. Never even heard of it until the end of high school. Avocado with just lemon and salt? Don’t blame you – avocado tastes very good on its own with minimal condiments over it.

          I can never seem to finish an entire avocado in one go. Eating half of it with some toast makes me full. I could barely finish the avocado dish in the photo, and it cost $18. Not worth the price, but so delicious.

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  36. Your post makes me wonder, is there any dish from the Aboriginal Australia cuisine that popular in Australia? I only know Tim Tam and that’s because my Australian colleagues often talked how they miss Tim Tam.

    Additionally I have read somewhere the Australian fish chips used carpet sharks (Wobbeggong) meat, and I don’t think that’s the same as British version (I hope the Australians will change the fish type because wobbeggong is in vulnerable status now)

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    • That is a good question – any dish from Aboriginal Australia that is popular here, or bush food (. Sadly, no. The closest thing I can think of is kangaroo meat, but I believe that is more widely eaten abroad than in Australia.

      I had no idea wobbegong meat is used to make the fish in fish and chips. Fish isn’t cheap here, maybe that is one of the cheapest kinds of fish here.

      Like

  37. Great list of “Aussie” foods!! When we think of local cuisine – we think lamb, Tim Tams, Vegemite and Lamingtons – at least that is what comes to mind immediately. It’s also the kind of stuff we have on Australia Day too 😉

    Like

    • You monkeys sound very Aussie. You know your Aussie food! I love Tim Tams too. Funny how no one has mentioned the Tim Tam slam. Maybe it has gone out of fashion, I don’t know. It’s so delicious…but you look so ridiculous slamming the biscuit and drink down 😉

      Like

  38. Vegemite is horrible. I’ve tasted it once when I had an Australian visitor. I’m thinking that around the coast in Australia they eat a lot more seafood (naturally). Perhaps some sort of seafood can be your national dish?
    In Norway you can get stuff like brown cheese (a sweet form of goat cheese), reindeer, elg (moose) and whale meat.

    Like

    • I agree. I am no fan of Vegemite. The only way someone can get to eat Vegemite on toast is if they paid me a million dollars. Lots of seafood around here, and most of the capital cities aren’t too far from beaches (an hour or two drive’s away). Fish and chips is a very popular dish here.

      I’ve never heard of brown cheese. That is something new and I would love to try it. Reindeer, elg and whale meat – they sound like delicacies.

      Like

  39. I really enjoyed this post M – 🙂 – and I just started following you because I want to come back for more of your seasoned outlook.
    and I had no idea about the meat pie – and would like to try it sometime… mmmmm
    and like your other readers- my take away line was
    ” it’s how we share food and appreciate food that brings us all together.”

    hear hear!

    Like

  40. It’s so hard to comment on this topic, as I am yet to try any of these dishes 🙂

    But, I am not planning a short trip down under, but a long one, to try each one of them 🙂

    Another excellent topic and well written post, Mabel 🙂

    Like

    • Looking forward to that day you come to Australia, Sreejith. Maybe I will catch up with you here, or I catch up with you in India and try as much Indian cuisine as I can.

      From the other comments, it seems that there is no one national dish in India. India defined by so many foods, so very interesting and rightfully so with so many languages and cultures within India.

      Like

  41. I always associate BBQ food as Australian. I suppose it’s because of the sunny climates most parts of Australia enjoy all year round and us Brits always hearing about the Christmas Day BBQ. I would imagine that fish is also popular in Australia, but I think it is in most countries. However I was very surprised last year when on the island of Cyprus to see that all the fish for sale was frozen. There was no fresh fish anywhere. I found that very strange being as Cyprus is a small Island country surrounded by the Mediterranean sea.

    Here the UK, Mabel, we have a few national dishes such as roast beef dinner, shepherds pie, fish and chips, and of course Sherry Trifle. However, curry from India, Thailand and China are also very popular now. Up until the 1970’s nobody had heard of Spaghetti Bolognese here in the UK. That is one of my favourite Italian dishes.

    Like

    • I always thought BBQs were a bit of a thing in the UK and Europe, but maybe not so, as you mentioned because of the climate. You are right. Fish is popular in Australia since a lot of the capital cities are near the coast. But many of the fish sold here, like in Cyprus, is sold frozen. Then again, some of our fish are imported from Asia.

      I googled Sherry Trifle, never heard of it before. That looks like one amazing dessert. When I think of the UK, apart from those foods you mentioned, I think of Cadbury chocolates. Always wanted to go to Cadbury world.

      Like

  42. Cadbury’s chocolate is my favourite as well, Mabel, although a few years ago it was purchased by an American company who have been trying to change the recipe for the chocolate, resulting in lots of unhappy British people.

    I’ve never been to Cadbury World, but it is on my ‘to do’ list.

    Like

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