When former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard offered a taste of Australia’s favorite spread to Barack Obama in 2011, his reaction was fairly standard for a foreigner: “Horrible”. It might be pretty gross, but this is as Australian as food gets. Vegemite is a thick, dark paste made from yeast extract, various vegetables and spice additives. Although it looks like Britain’s Marmite, Vegemite is much saltier than its UK cousin. The most popular way to eat Vegemite is on bread or toast with butter, and the trick is to spread it thinly – this salty, bitter spread is not like Nutella. The spread lives in just about every Australian’s cupboard, adorning toast and disgusting foreigners for years.
“Aussie kids are Weet-Bix kids”, or so says the brand’s famous advertising jingle which has been pervading Aussie homes for decades. This high-fiber breakfast biscuit has been an Australian food favorite since 1930. Made from whole-grain wheat, it is sweeter and smaller than Weetabix found in the UK or the US. Weet-Bix is eaten with hot or cold milk, a spoonful or two of sugar and fruit like bananas and strawberries. You can also spread butter and Vegemite on Weet-Bix.
3. Sausage Sanger
Australians and barbecues go together like Americans and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And at the core of any good Aussie “barbie” are “snags” (sausages). On the weekends, it’s common to find a “sausage sizzle” happening outside your local hardware store. These sausage sizzles are usually part of fundraising efforts for schools and other community organizations. You can buy a “sausage sanger” – a sausage slapped on usually one piece of bread with some fried onions on top and smothered in your favorite sauce – for a few dollars.
4. Chiko Roll
Inspired by Chinese spring rolls, this Australian food icon is a deep-fried snack containing cabbage, celery, carrot, beans, onion and spices stuffed into a tube of batter. Despite its name, the Chiko Roll contains no chicken. The snack is usually eaten on the go and can be found in your local fish and chip takeaway among other deep-fried delights. Part of the Chiko Roll’s popularity comes down to marketing. Chiko has used sexy women to market the brand since 1965, most memorably with scantily clad biker babes gripping the roll suggestively.
5. Chicken Parmigiana
The Italians may have invented the parmigiana, but it was the Aussies who transformed the dish into a true pub classic known as the “chicken parmi”. The meal has evolved from an Italian eggplant dish into a chicken schnitzel topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese, served with fries and a side salad. You can get your parmi in plenty of versions including camembert, pesto, ham, prosciutto, pineapple and tandoori. In Melbourne in particular, plenty of pubs offer a “parma night” which usually includes a beer or house wine.