Food Culture and Tradition

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Australian Meals and Customs


There are no particular rituals associated with meals in Australia. The three-meals-a-day pattern is prevalent, with morning and afternoon breaks usually consisting of tea or beer with a small snack. The Australian woman taking her lunch at home will eat sparsely; the working person will have an inexpensive hot plate of mince, potato, and peas, or a meat pie with beer. Most children eat their lunches at school, buying it at the tuck shop or cafeteria, and have a choice of cold but satisfying foods such as meat pies, sausage rolls, buns, salads, sweets, drinks, and potato chips. The evening meal at home will usually consist of meat and vegetables, potatoes, or bread. Potatoes are expensive and not as widely available as in North America. Pastries or fruit or simple puddings will he the dessert.

Avid outdoor people, Australians love any excuse for a picnic (the races, any races) or barbecue. Simple barbecued meats or fresh fish, vegetables, fruits, and perhaps biscuits and cakes, together with a good supply of beer spell good times and a festive occasion.

Many people still working in the isolated out-back regions prefer to cook in bush ovens. A hole is dug in the ground and lined with hot coals. A special heavy, covered cooking pot is placed on the coals, covered with more coals, and finally heaped with earth. Although simple in principle, this method requires great skill, and for those who know how to do it, anything from meats and stews to cakes and breads can be cooked this way.

Aside from going to small casual restaurants and local bars to enjoy beer with friends, Australians are not generally keen about eating out. Tourists to Australia are often disappointed by what they consider to he mediocre hotel and restaurant standards. It is not that the Australians in any way lack hospitality, it is rather that they lack the ability to be servile. To the Australian, even his boss is his “mate,” tip-ping is disliked because of its servile connotation, and Australians take great personal pride in the fact that theirs is a “classless society.” It is most unfortunate that this pride of independence and love of equality is too often misconstrued as arrogance.

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