Kakadu plums, native pepperberries, bush tomatoes, emu and crocodile are just a few items that might be stocking the galley when we sail the land Down Under, Senior Culinary Director Eric Barale shared. What exactly defines Australian cuisine?
While the cuisine found among the islands of the South Pacific focuses on fresh seafood complemented by local fruits and vegetables, Australian cuisine is much more difficult to pinpoint. With a confluence of indigenous dishes, known as bush tucker, plus vast European and Asian influences, the cuisine takes on as many personalities as the continent itself.
Melting Pot of Global Flavors
From quondong and Anzac biscuits to meat pies and dim sum, Australian cuisine is a true melting pot of indigenous ingredients, homegrown creations and far-flung influences spanning centuries. During Australia’s gold rushes in the 1850s, an influx of European and American immigrants spurred the development of a coffee culture and British imports like meat pies and Cornish pasties. Chinese food was also introduced during this period, proliferating in the 1860s and 1870s, especially in the port cities – and now dim sum is nearly considered a national dish. Another wave of immigrants in the late 1940s after World War II introduced a much broader array of influences, ingredients and flavors from all over Europe, and in particular Italy and Greece. Meanwhile, a continual influx of immigrants from East and Southeast Asia has firmly solidified Australia’s reputation for excellent, authentic Asian cuisine.
Seafood, of course, has also long been popular in Aussie kitchens, especially native fish like barramundi and Tasmanian salmon. According to Barale, Moreton Bay bugs, a type of flat lobster-like crustacean, are a very typical Australian dish cooked on the barbecue.
“Perhaps not as well-known as shrimp on the barbecue or Pavlova, Moreton Bay bugs are delicious drizzled with a little olive oil or butter and cooked on the barbecue in their shell,” Barale said.
A Bite of Bush Tucker
Aboriginal Australians represent one of the oldest living cultures on Earth, and their influence on culinary traditions is still present today. In fact, Fleet Corporate Executive Chef Franck Garanger notes that Aboriginal influences are on the rise in the contemporary Aussie restaurant scene and that native Australian dishes, or bush tucker, are featured on board when sailing this region.
“As in other parts of the world there is a return to the indigenous culinary traditions for inspiration. We bring this to life on board with native dishes and traditional, local ingredients like akudjura which is a seasoning made from ground bush tomatoes and lemon myrtle which we use in sauces and dressing,” Garanger said.
Depending on the chef ’s inspiration, you might try Wildfire-Spiced Tasmanian Trout
on Paperbark-Smoked Kipfler Mash topped with Pineapple and Riberry Salsa or
perhaps something a bit more simple like Oysters Outback and a Sydney Salad with
Regardless of what you choose, you’ll enjoy a delicious taste of Australia on board
our ships and ashore in sought-after destinations across this fascinating continent. Cheers, mate!