Australian food today?

IMG_20120818_074724 Australia’s food was excellent. England’s food was not. That’s at least how I remember it in 2004 when I moved to England for the second time. Then, Australian food was all light, fresh, vibrant and religiously accompanied with a glass of some local white wine (10 Greek Street will give you a flavour of this).

England’s food was heavy, starchy and battered. I was genuinely confounded about where to find a decent meal in London. Then, good coffee in London was sold in ‘boutique’ coffee shops and in Australia, coffee shops.

Nearly 9 years later, time has changed England and it has also changed me. England’s restaurant food is now incomparable to what it once was with ‘seasonal’, ‘local’ and ‘fresh’ ingrained into the psyche of chefs & punters – it’s no longer some wish words on a menu. Some of London’s restaurants are the best in the world by miles – Soho possibly the centre of the dining universe right now.

Facing a return to Sydney, the food anxiety is reversed. I am certain that Australia hasn’t regressed from 9 years ago but not moving forward is not that far from falling behind. Nina Caplan @NinaCaplan (a food writer who flits between England & Australia) assures me that my fears are misplaced – but there they are, niggling. To stoke the anxiety I even see truly London trends inspiring the Aussies (burger anyone?) – win the Ashes all you like England, but this food influence may be a step too far.

Australia’s post-Second World War immigration from continental Europe has gifted Australia with its food culture. Imagine if most of Europe moved to southern Italy taking all their food heritage with them – it’s like that. The fun is in the discovery and I can’t wait to find Australia’s current ‘seasonal’, ‘local’ and ‘fresh’ and share them. I may even take orders for export to England.

Published by Brett

Brett is an experienced lawyer and business executive who focuses on commercial outcomes. He has worked across three sectors in England & Australia advising and leading initiatives in digital, media and technology

One thought on “Australian food today?

  1. Can’t say that I completely agree that migration from continental was really the secret of Australia’s culinary explosion. We had a lot of migration from continental Europe (and Asia) from the 1850s to 1900s but still burnt steak, drippings and potatoes prevailed. It was really only in desserts where something tasteful was produced (pavlova, lamingtons, short breads, Anzac cookies, coconut slices, ice volvos.)

    I’d say the culinary explosion had more to do with the invention of refrigerated transport allowing fresh food to be transported over long distances and the Snowy Mountain Scheme allowing more niche food to be grown. The diversity of Europeans cuisines encouraged an experimental mindset but that had a downside. Too much experimentation resulted in fusion not confusion.

    Personally, I’d say that the best cuisines in Australia are those that draw on an Asian heritage. There is a bit less experimentation, but the chefs still make use of the abundant array of fresh produce. I wouldn’t say that European food is that bad, but I can’t say that I am particularly excited by it.

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