Native Aboriginal groups have lived off of the land for generations and eaten a wide variety of foods including, kangaroo, emu and local shellfish. Great Britain established its first settlement in Australia in 1788 and these settlers brought their traditional English way of cooking and adapted it to the resources available. Australian foods have also been influenced by the cuisines of Asia. Beyond the stereotypical "shrimp on the barbie," you can also incorporate Asian dishes into an Australian-themed party.
Besides Germans, Italians and the French, many of the emigrants to Australia in the early and mid-20th century were Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese. These latter cuisines have been readily adopted in Australia. Such dishes as Chinese or Vietnamese stir-fried dishes or Indian curries would be very appropriate at an Australian-themed party.
Shrimp on the Barbie
Shrimp on the barbie, or barbecue, is the stereotypical Australian food. Many Americans associate Australians with the character of Crocodile Dundee, as portrayed by Paul Hogan in the movie of that name. We hear the phrase, "I'll slip another shrimp on the barbie" thanks to Paul Hogan's tourism commercials from the '80s and '90s. Many Australian cities are on or near the coast, so shrimp became a staple in Australian cuisine. To make Australian-style grilled shrimp, marinate the shrimp in soy sauce and sesame oil seasoned with fresh ginger, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg for one to two hours. Grill and serve with potato salad or roasted vegetables.
Kangaroo was a popular meat in Australia in the country's early history. Now Australians eat it much less frequently and many other meats are available. If you have access to kangaroo, emu or ostrich meat, serve it English style with a mushroom sauce or incorporate it into a Chinese stir-fry. Today, Australia is famous for its lamb. To prepare lamb Australian-style, season it with salt and pepper or marinate in wine and spices before grilling it to just medium-rare.
Lamingtons are said to have been devised by Charles Baillie, the 2nd Baron Lamington, who was governor of Queensland at the end of the 19th century. A sponge cake is cut into squares. Each square is then dipped in chocolate frosting and then rolled in coconut flakes. Another popular Australian dessert is the pavlova, named after the famous Russian ballet dancer, which is a thick meringue base topped with cream and fresh fruit.
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