Food Culture and Tradition

Food, People and Culture Resources

Domestic Life and Special Occasions in Australia


Australian kitchens are similar to those in North America, though smaller and probably boasting fewer appliances and gadgets. Electricity is favored over gas as a cooking fuel, but outdoor picnics and barbecues are frequent and preferred because of the pleasant climate. Home freezers are not yet common, so there are few frozen products available to the consumer. Ranges, refrigerators, and dishwashers are common, as are most of the small practical kitchen appliances familiar in North America. Most popular is the “hot water jug”: available in different sizes, this small appliance heats water quickly to the boiling point – practical in a land where frequent cups of tea are the daily rule.


The staples of the Australian diet can be described as “steak and eggs”, and the preference for simple solid food shows up on the spice shelf too: salt and pepper and a few spices for baking. But inroads are being made in introducing “health foods” such as whole grains and yogurt, and the preparation of more vegetables and the use of skim milk powder is becoming more widespread. Price rises in fresh beef will also encourage the use of other meats and meat alternates. Women favor tea, men enjoy beer, and children drink milk at most meals.


Freedom of worship prevails in Australia. There are many Protestant and Roman Catholic groups, and about one-third of the population belongs to the Church of England. Since Christmas occurs in the Australian summer, a typical dinner of salads and cold meats, with an ice cream cake or pudding for dessert, is common. Special occasions such as Race Days, or local sports events, are celebrated with picnics, barbecues, and plentiful beer.

Anzac Day, April 25, commemorates Australian soldiers who died in the First World War. The day is marked by a parade of “old diggers” (soldiers) and beer parties. Australia Day, on January 26, is marked by parties featuring barbecues of beef or lamb, salads, and the favorite dessert, pavlova: a whipped cream, meringue, and tropical-fruit confection.

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