Before this month, the only thing I’d heard about Australian food was that they have Vegemite sandwiches—thanks to the Men at Work—but Australia was loaded with many amazing dishes and desserts. I baked lots of pies for dinners and lots of desserts and even discovered the closest thing I’ve found to heaven on earth—the pavlova.
That said, I was surprised to find out that there didn’t seem to be any famous regional specialties for Western Australia, perhaps because the country is so young. Please correct me if I’ve missed something! I tried Reddit (the first things I saw for the region were about giant spider bites, snakes, and crocodiles) and in /r/WesternAustralia, the only local lead I’d gotten mentioned marron dishes (marron is a type of crayfish from Western Australia), which is hard to find here. The closest thing, I think, might be lobster, which is rather expensive, and more importantly, I don’t think I could ever boil a live lobster (or crayfish). When I was little, I’d wished I could save the lobsters in the supermarket tanks. I am fully aware that eating prepared meat is forcing ignorance on this matter, and if I were ever in a situation where I’d have to hunt my food to eat it, I’d probably become a vegetarian.
So buying a lobster to throw in a pot was out of the question. Witchetty grub, on the other hand, I could probably handle. In fact, one description says it tastes like nutty, fried chicken on the outside and like fried egg on the inside. I could definitely do that. But along with practically every other native Australian food, none of these things were readily available where I live, except for macadamia nuts. I was lucky enough to find an Australian yogurt brand flavored with passionfruit, but that’s the closest I got to tasting the real thing. So I did learn something from this: despite our global, interconnected world that makes the world feel very small sometimes, for some places, you really still need to venture to the location to try the food. Which, in a way, is nice—it leaves some mystery. Now I have another reason to travel to Western Australia, in addition to my new goal of meeting a friendly quokka.
My favorite thing from Australia? The pavlova. No question. The Anzac biscuits come in a close second (if I were more of a coconut person, this might even tie with the pavlova). As for dinners, the chicken parmi was my favorite followed very closely by the meat pie. I will be making these again. I believe yo-yo biscuits would be excellent, if I could find custard powder! There are still so many foods and products from Australia I’d like to try, and really should: Tim-Tams, Milo, and Vegemite, for example. I was excited about them, but they weren’t in the local groceries and I didn’t plan ahead to buy them online. It’s ironic that the only Australian food I knew going into this experiment is one of the ones I still haven’t tried. Lesson learned—plan ahead and get any special ingredients before the time for that place arrives!
And now for Yên Lạc, Vĩnh Phúc, Vietnam . . .