The Multi-Cultural Food Revolution
The start of the cultural food revolution in Australia coincided with the gold rush of the 1800′s, when Asian food was first introduced to Australia by Chinese prospectors yearning for the tastes of home. Eventually, for many of the Chinese migrants, opening a restaurant became a more financially-attractive option than panning for gold.
However, the real cultural food revolution came after World War II, when Australia opened its boarders to European migration. Today, European foods and cooking styles are part of our everyday diet – from pizza, to pasta dishes, antipasti, types of cheeses, dips, sauces and breads all of which are now readily available at most supermarkets throughout Australia. The migration of many Europeans since 1945 also led to espresso coffee becoming a more popular drink than tea.
The 1980′s brought larger numbers of Asian migrants, and virtually every town and suburb now has a Chinese and a Thai restaurant. The ‘melting pot’ of nationalities in Australia has brought with it a seemingly endless choice of cuisines.
Modern Australian cuisine (and even wine), has been strongly influenced by the palettes of migrants to the country. The influx of migrants from Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East has brought a vast range of new flavours. Chinese, Thai, Japanese, French, African and Greek cuisine have become strong influences on Australian tastes and the major cities have a wide choice of restaurants. Australian chefs are now also renowned all over the world for their ‘fusion cuisine’ – combining traditional European cooking with Asian flavours.
Australian cuisine has also done a complete circle. Not only has vegetarianism and veganism recently gained a wider acceptance in Australian culture, but traditional bush tucker foods and game meats are also now considered speciality foods. These days, Australian bush foods, such as quandong, kutjera, bunya nuts, wattle seed, lemon myrtle and lilly pilly are fashionably appearing on restaurant menus around the world.
The current trend in modern Australian cuisine is for low fat, healthy cooking. With the majority of the population living in coastal areas, fish and seafood are very popular, as are stir-fried or lightly cooked seasonal vegetables. This move towards a healthy diet reflects the current concerns about obesity and the increased attention on lifestyle options and diet more than ever before. People are expecting food to help them to live longer, fight common diseases, look and feel better and to get more out of life.