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The strange things Aussies eat (according to foreigners)

A sausage sandwich, a staple of any Australian barbecue.
A sausage sandwich, a staple of any Australian barbecue. PAUL MILLER

WHOEVER said Australia doesn't have a national cuisine has clearly never seen the puzzled look on faces of international visitors as we devour some of our favourite feeds.

With Bunnings launching their first stores in the UK last week, they celebrated the only way that Bunnings' know how, with a sausage sizzle.

However, the event raised more than a few eyebrows, with some Poms unfamiliar with the simple snag on a slice of white bread, which begs the question: what other foods do people find weird or confusing in Australia?

I didn't know the answers, so I asked a few people who did:

Rebecca Jane Matos, Texas, USA

What foods did you find confusing or weird while you were in Australia?

RM: Well that prawn sandwich your mum (Note: Rebecca lived with me and my family for a few months while in Australia on an exchange program) made me, it was delicious but I didn't even know you could make a sandwich out of prawns. Also you guys put weird stuff on burgers.

Ok so what do you call "weird stuff" on burgers?

Whats that purple stuff? Beetroot? What is that anyway?

Is there anything that you had while in Australia that you've made since being back in the states or you miss?

I eat pineapple on my pizza sometimes now. Also I eat a lot more avocado and mango. I search high and low for Tim Tams. Vegemite is super weird too but you probably already knew that. Ingredients are different between the two countries, even if they are the same they kinda taste different, so it's hard to replicate the recipes even if I wanted to. It is never the same.

A favourite among Australians, the Tim Tam has won over more than a few foreign travellers.
A favourite among Australians, the Tim Tam has won over more than a few foreign travellers. Contributed

What are your thoughts on the sausage sandwich?

It's funny because we do that with hot dogs and think it's super American.

I thought a hot dog has a bun and is a frankfurter?

It's more like a personal preference thing. I guess the "Aussie" and "American " basics of it is different, but it's never the things that you think are "super American " or "super Aussie" that are what stands out.

I've seen people over here do it the way you do it there, the whole bun and frankfurter thing is just the way its advertised as being "super American".

So Australians don't have a monopoly on the sausage sandwich?

Afraid not!

Maggie Whalen, Boston, USA

What did you find weird or confusing about Australian food while you were in Australia?

MW: Vegemite was always interesting to us.... We tried it before we left and I never really got around to liking it. Another thing for us was the sausage on sliced bread. We eat them on buns here and it seems insignificant but it was very strange for us! Alternatively sausage rolls, what is in those?!

 

Humble Vegemite has been confusing and perplexing tourists for generations.
Humble Vegemite has been confusing and perplexing tourists for generations. JULIAN SMITH

I loved meat pies but they were definitely interesting at first - we were not really sure what was in the them, and the peas on top was different too!

I've missed Tim Tams so so much! Did a Tim Tam slam the other day which was great. I also miss seafood pizza, for some reason that was only an Australian thing.

Sausage rolls are like sausages I think, nobody knows what's actually in them. I was going to ask you about the sausage sandwich, so it was the little difference that was confusing?

Not really sure, the sliced bread just really threw me off. I liked it! Not bad just different.

Kristi Nati, New Jersey, USA

What confused you about Australian food when you first got here?

We are not necessarily fans of Vegemite - even the slightest bit is very bitter and doesn't taste like anything we're used to. Also before corrected, we thought it was spread heavily (and that is definitely not the case!!) so interesting that kangaroo is cooked so minimally, almost raw! Not used to meat like that, however meat pies, Tim Tams and goon I could have forever.

What about sausage sizzles?

It was so interesting that sausages (hot dogs as we call them) are eaten in a slice of bread, different from buns that we use here and it was very odd at first but then so great. It was definitely confusing the first time I saw them, but they had them all over campus, but then got used to it and they were yummy!

Maureen Finn, Vancouver, Canada

What foods did you find confusing or weird while you were in Australia?

MF: Well I can start with the obvious: Vegemite. The obsession with flavoured milk thing is weird too...who the hell wants banana flavoured milk?

I'm not sure if this is weird, but I definitely noticed it, the love of white bread with icing and sprinkles, fairy bread I think it is.

But seriously, the banana and lime flavoured milk thing is beyond weird.

What do you find weird about it?

Lime and milk, that's like adding and acid and a base. I don't even know how it doesn't curdle the milk. It seems so strange to add a citrus acidic fruit to a basic dairy product. Milk is milk! Chocolate milk is ok because chocolate has dairy in it, but can you imagine pouring milk over your lime before you eat it? It's by far the strangest thing I've seen people eat in Australia.

So no flavoured milk for you. What do you think of the sausage sizzle?

They're brilliant! So basic, but whenever someone said they were going to a Bunnings I came along because you were almost guaranteed a cheap sausage.

I did think it was strange that they don't use hot dog buns? When I would find them and buy them, people always called me fancy, as though a sausage shaped piece of white bread was fancy! Also, they're way less mess with a proper hot dog bun. Those pieces of bread Aussies use spill sauce and particularly onion everywhere.

Beetroot on burgers is also a genius Aussie discovery, it's unheard of here.

Beetroot on a burger is still a matter of fierce debate.
Beetroot on a burger is still a matter of fierce debate.

Diego Manriquez, São Paulo, Brazil

You lived in a lot of countries growing up, what did you find weird when you got to Australia?

DM: I didn't dislike any foods but Vegemite was weird, but I eat it to this day! I have a jar here now.

Kangaroo meat, that shocked me. I thought you guys loved them! I tell everyone over here how you could just find it in supermarkets and everyone is shocked. See the kangaroo eat the kangaroo be the kangaroo, man.

Also the meat pies, I was always used to big pies and you eat a slice but you guys eat lots of pies, and there were lots of sausage sizzles

I was about to ask you about the sausage sizzle, was that a confusing concept to you?

I was surprised I never had shrimp on the barbie. I'm Brazilian, so sausage is for hot dog not usually a barbecue thing, so it was strange at first, especially since you eat it with normal toast bread.

I should clarify we have chorizos in barbecue but it's different. Sausage sizzle is like the street barbecue, our street barbecue is more like meat skewers.

What Aussie food do you miss now in Brazil?

I'd kill for a falafel kebab right now, you can quote me on that. You guys eat kebabs as wraps and not the traditional Pita bread way.

Also the coffee culture there is unreal, it's very good coffee and it's cool you guys don't sell out to Starbucks. Even Brazil has Starbucks nowadays and our coffee is amazing

I remember that day we bought a bunch of prawns and ate them by the lighthouse in Yamba, that was a dank meal.

Clarence Valley prawns have fans all the way in Brazil
Clarence Valley prawns have fans all the way in Brazil Rodney Stevens

Alejandra Navarrete, Ecuador

What are some of the strangest/most confusing Australian foods? Why?

AN: Sausage sandwiches, it's not so much about the sausage - they should use a different type of bread, because when you put tomato sauce, barbecue sauce or even onion on a thin slice of bread it makes it wet, it breaks and gets messy and yucky.

Vegemite, it tastes like a mineral supplement we use to give cattle and horses.

What is your opinion on Australia's obsession for a sausage sandwich?

Surely there are other options that are healthier and taste better.

What simple, easy to cook foods should Australians replace the sausage sandwich with at a charity barbecue?

Just change the bread. Use a bread roll, add lettuce and tomato. It's healthier and no harder to prepare.

Nathan Connelly, Mansfield, UK

You've lived in Australia for 10 years and now an Australian citizen, but you'll always be English at heart. What was weird food-wise when you first got here?

NC: Nothing springs to mind other than the disgust I feel when I see people eating Vegemite.

That's been a popular response so far. What about sausage sandwiches? Did they confuse you at first?

Not the concept of it no, but it's not really a sandwich if it's just in one slice though, so maybe that bit would have been confusing. I just heard them get called snags in bread initially, which made enough sense.

Samantha Avalos, Brussels, Belgium

What foods did you find confusing or weird while you were in Australia?

SA: Vegemite, which I hated, but I loved avocados! Also, the yellow vegetable, I forgot the name, but the one that had a funny shape? I had never seen that and haven't found it anywhere else yet, but it was nice?

Was it squash?

Yes! That's the one!

Yellow Squash Photo: Che Chapman / Sunshine Coast Daily
Yellow Squash Photo: Che Chapman / Sunshine Coast Daily Che Chapman

What about sausage sizzles?

Is that with normal sausages? We also have them here, but you definitely cook more meat on the barbecue in Australia! It's nice because of the weather.

Daria Bruna, Switzerland

What did you find weird or confusing about Australian food while you were living here?

DB: Well obviously Vegemite, but not a lot of people I met actually ate that.

You have some weird sweet stuff. I never had the mint/chocolate combination before even though the English seem to like it too, and also most of your chocolate tastes like sugar and not like chocolate.

What confused me was more the fact that you have the same things, but they taste different than what I was expecting, like chocolate, bread or juice.

What about a sausage sizzle? Were you a fan?

At the time I did, now I don't not eat meat anymore, just that the whole barbecuing was sometimes a bit much... like all but a couple of days in summer.

Sausage sandwiches are actually quite common around here, but obviously we don't call them that. In Switzerland we hike a lot and then grill somewhere in the mountain, so it makes total sense to put your sausage on a bread to eat it after.

Madlen Witte, Germany

You travelled around Australia for a year, what did you find weird or confusing about Australian food?

MW: I was first overwhelmed by the high living costs of fresh food in Australia and then I realised that you have a broad variety of frozen or vacuum packed food.

Your puddings are also great , like the sticky date pudding! In fact all your sweets are very sweet ... even your chocolate seems sweeter to me than the ones which are sold in Europe

Because of Australian farmers I am friends with I had the chance to try fresh kangaroo steak and jerky and all sorts and that is just delicious in every way. I think it is really comparable with our deer.

And your lamb chops! To be fair, I knew where it was coming from, I saw how they were raised, treated and worked it helps and if all station sheep are that happy animals. You guys have the best and fairest meat production you can find. You have the space and if the farmer is clever and not greedy also enough food for sheep to get delicious.

Of course it is often also a way how you grill it but Australians understand a good barbecue. Like the toast with egg in it, or the amazing spit we made with that awesome lemon marinade. Australians just understand how to cook meat!

Topics:  bunnings warehouse editors picks general-seniors-news kangaroo meat sausage sizzle vegemite


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