Australian food traditions have been shaped by the people who settled in Australia. Throughout the majority of Australian history, Australian cookery was based on traditional British food, brought to the country by the very first British settlers.
Later, in the 19th and especially 20th century, food began to reflect the influences of Mediterranean and Asian cultures, introduced by many immigrants who settled in Australia during this period.
Nowadays, food consumed by Australians bears the influences of globalisation. Organic and biodynamic, Kosher and Halal food, for instance, is extensively available in Australia. Restaurants whose cuisine tends to demonstrate contemporary adaptations, interpretations or fusions of these multicultural gastronomic influences are frequently labelled with the umbrella term "Modern Australian". Fast food chains may also be found everywhere in the country. British traditions still persist to varying levels both in domestic cooking as well as the takeaway food sector, with pies, fish and chips remaining popular amongst Australians.
A native Australian cuisine movement has also emerged, evolving out of the Australian themed restaurants from the mid-1980's. The discovery of the spice-like qualities of many native Australian plant ingredients formed the basis of a gourmet cuisine. That is in contrast with the Bush tucker or foraged food as in native Aboriginal traditions unfamiliar to gourmets.
So you think that Australian cuisine is all shrimps on barbys and Tim Tam biscuits? Think again. With such a culturally diverse population, a wide range of delicious and unique dishes originate from Australia. Whilst some seem obvious, others might come as a surprise. So grab a plate and check out what culinary delights Down Under has to offer:
Chicken parmigiana - It may sound Italian, but this classic Aussie chicken dish is a staple on many a pub menu. Originally eggplant based, it has evolved in to a chicken schnitzel topped with tomato sauce, melted cheese and if you're feeling fancy, prosciutto ham.
Barbequed snags - Ok, so it's no surprise that Aussies love to grill, and nothing is more important to a good barby than a decent snag. Traditional Australian sausages are usually pork or beef, but if you're feeling adventurous, why not go for venison or a slightly spicy version for a more international flavour? Stick it in a bun and top it off with some fried onions and your favourite sauce.
Lamingtons - Widely recognised as the 'National Cake of Australia' after the National Trust of Queensland voted this sweet treat an Australian icon, the lamington is a modest square-shaped sponge dipped in chocolate and coated with desiccated coconut. Other variations include two layers and a cream or jam filling. They go perfectly with a nice cup of bush tea of maybe one of Melbourne's world-famous coffees!
A burger with 'the lot' - If tomato, lettuce, onions and a juicy meat patty just isn't enough burger then maybe you should try the Aussie gut-buster with 'the lot'. Take a burger bun and stuff it with barbequed meat, salad, sauce and for the Australian twist, add a slice of pineapple and some pickled beetroot. Perfect after a long day surfing or relaxing on the beach.
Pavlova - Both Australia and New Zealand lay claim inventing this famous dessert, created in honour of the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova's visit to Australasia in the 1920s. As a truly Australian after dinner sweet, Pavlova's crispy meringue crust, light fruit filling and whipped cream topping ensure it's a family hit.
Meat pies - So they're not the healthiest option, but they are a great snack and a national favourite. Flaky pastry filled with beef, chicken or ham and eggs, served with mashed potato and gravy, this is Australian comfort food at its best.
Barramundi - Forget about fish and chips, feast on fresh Australian barramundi, a name which means 'large-scaled river fish' in the Aboriginal language. Grilled, fried or seared skin-side first, it's a much healthier alternative to battered fish, and a true Aussie meal.
Vegemite on Toast - Not a particularly complicated but much loved dish, Vegemite on toast is great for breakfast, lunch or as an anytime snack. Similar to British Marmite, Vegemite is a vegetarian alternative made from yeast extract, and actually not vegetables. To make your own Australian delicacy grab two slices of bread, stick them on the grill and evenly spread the vegemite. Simple.
Pumpkin soup - Australia isn't all about grilled meats and seafood, there are a wide range of vegetarian dishes out there too, including a hearty bowl of pumpkin soup. Originating from Australia, it has taken off and is now an international favourite. Add a Granny Smith apple, which were first grown just outside of Sydney, for an authentic Australian version.
Grilled kangaroo - Lean and tasty, kangaroo is one of the healthiest meats around, as well being a national icon. But you better like your steak blue, or at least rare as Skippy is notoriously difficult to cook and can dry out quite easily if left on the barby too long!