Saturday Kitchen: Destination Australia

Meat pie, fairy bread and lamingtons

There was no destination theme dinner at Chez Tracey last night – we had dinner with friends at their home in the Sunshine Coast hinterland instead; under social distancing rules, of course. 

It was the coldest night of the year (so far) and we rugged up and ate outside around the fire pit watching a spectacular sunset through the valley and listening to the kookaburras as they settled down for the night. It’s not unusual on their property to see kangaroos, but not last night – the fire probably frightened them off.

On the menu was the most amazing pulled pork I think I’ve ever eaten. It was cooked in the smoker for 12 hours and we ate it on bread rolls with coleslaw and home-made chilli sauce, balancing the plates on our laps. Pudding was an apple and walnut crumble cake. It was a perfect meal. Destination Australia on a plate.

My Canadian bloggy friend asked me the other day what a typical Australian meal was, and I had to think. Really think. So, Donna, this post is for you – and anyone else who draws Australia out of their Destination Dinner Decision Bowl.

The last time that Destination Australia was drawn out of the Destination Dinner Decision Bowl, we had seafood – Mooloolaba prawn cocktails to start, an Asian-inspired salmon as a main, and lemon curd pavlova to finish. The time before that we had a marinated butterflied (de-boned) leg of lamb that we cooked on the barbeque and served it with beetroot and feta salad, green salad leaves, Noosa Red tomatoes and a roast potato salad. The dessert that night was Bowen mango and vanilla ice-cream.

What, though, is our national dish? This is a question that tends to get asked each January around Australia Day.

One poll of News Limited readers attracted 24,000 votes, with roast lamb coming in as the number one choice as our national dish. The lamb roast has always had a place in our hearts – check out this ad where a very young Naomi Watts gave up dinner with Tom Cruise for her mum’s lamb roast (to be honest, I don’t blame her). 

Meat pies and sausage sandwiches came in second and third. As an aside, the sausage sanger, a sausage in a slice of bread with (or without) onions, (tomato or barbecue) sauce and maybe even mustard, is arguably one of the few street foods that we can call our own.

Here in Chez Tracey we love a slow-cooked roast lamb but are more likely to barbeque marinated butterflied lamb and serve it with a beetroot and feta salad, salad veg and perhaps a potato salad.

If you google “iconic Australian food” you’ll find plenty of lists of foods you must try – such as this onethis one and this one. Some of the foods on the list are cringeworthy, some cliched, nut hey, that’s what lists like these are for. They include foods like chiko rolls, golden gaytimes, cherry ripes, lamingtons, pavlovas and vegemite; and ingredients such as avocado, mangoes, barramundi and mud crabs.

As an aside, I’m a yes to vegemite and had a vegemite and cheese sandwich nearly every day in my lunchbox. 

vegemite & cheese toastie

As for what’s on our table? 

In our fridge and pantry, you’ll always find ingredients such as garlic, ginger, chilli, lime, lemongrass, Asian greens, fresh turmeric, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar and mirin. There’s also always chickpeas and tahini to make hummus, and tomato passata, olive oil and pasta.

While I love macadamia nuts and enjoy cooking with them, I haven’t yet embraced native Australian flavours such as lemon myrtle, wattleseed, pepperberry and saltbush – although this absolutely is a growing movement in the foodie scene. Nor do I tend to cook kangaroo at home, but have been known to order it in restaurants.

Mid-week meals in our house tend to be quick – things we can have on the table in 30 minutes: Asian style soups, salads, or stir-fries; maybe some meat barbequed and served with salad or mash and veg; perhaps a quick roast chicken tray-bake; bowl food like teriyaki, satay or Thai green curry chicken and rice. Of late we’ve started having one meat-free evening meal a week.

Comfort food (a Sunday night special) might be something like spag bol, macaroni cheese, chilli con carne, tuna mornay or toasties and a mug of soup.

Living on the coast we’re fortunate to have access to some of the best seafood in the country – and, therefore (in my humble opinion) the world #notbiasedmuch. In fact, my idea of the perfect lunch would be a bucket of fresh Mooloolaba prawns and a bottle of white wine.

In conclusion, we’ve got little pieces of the culinary heritage of everyone who has settled here – from our first people to more recent arrivals – and our own little piece of the globe. Whether it’s a noodle soup, sausages and mash, steak and chips, kebabs, barramundi, something cooked on a barbeque, or over a campfire it’s all typically Australian.

I’ll leave you with a scene from The Castle... It’s a scene that we react often in our house #sadbuttrue “what do you call that love?”. Enjoy.

What would you cook for Destination Australia? Have I left any of your Aussie favourites off the list?

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

10 thoughts

  1. Hi Joanne, I do know all about the Fairy Bread, thanks to you. We had fun with it at our house one day in the Winter when the girls were over. Your perfect meal sounds wonderful. The sunsets, breathtaking! We did try meat pies a few times in N.Z. I was not too thrilled. It may have been what we found. Your meals always look healthy, fun and yummy!

    1. A good meat pie is a treat, an average one is, well, average. How much fun is fairy bread? Just looking at it makes me happy.

  2. Hi Jo –
    Las night’s dinner sounds amazing. Your description made me wish that I was there too!
    Thanks for this explanation (and the shout out). Although I have been to Australia (2 very short visits), I really couldn’t describe ‘Austalian food’. The food that you listed all sounds delicious (okay, except for the vegemite. I honestly tried but just couldn’t get into it). The good news is that we truly can be friends: Garlic, ginger, chilli, lime,greens, fresh turmeric, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chickpeas olive oil and pasta are staples in our house too. I don’t eat much meat, but I do like meat pies. I must confess that I did have to look up ‘mirin’. 😀

    1. Vegemite is love it or hate it territory – I love it. And yes, I think we truly can be friends if we have shared ingredients. 🙂

  3. I think our dinners and pantry still have a strong British influence. When it comes to iconic Aussie food, I’m there for the snacks and sweets, think sausage sangas, meat pies, pavlovas, lamingtons and of course, the Caramello Koalas!

  4. Gorgeous sunset! Your perfect lunch sounds great to me. Fresh seafood and a good bottle of wine by the beach…Now I’m dreaming 🙂

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