Today is Australia Day. A day when those of us from Down Under have a national day off to celebrate the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 to our sun-kissed shores.
As an expat, I’m no longer entitled to a lovely day off for BBQ and revelry, and I find myself missing some of the foods that are quintessentially Australian. These are foods to make one feel patriotic. So on this day, 224 many years after the English colonized the country, I’d like to share my favourite Australian food traditions with you.
LAMINGTONS are a small slice of square sponge, covered in a chocolate-sauce-type substance and then coconut. Popular at bake sales and morning tea nationwide, Lamingtons are light, fluffy and most importantly, delicious!
FAIRY BREAD is a staple of children’s birthday parties. Take a loaf of white bread, slather it with butter and cover with sprinkles (round ones are traditionally preferred over straight sprinkles). To be proper fairy bread, one should cut the slice into triangle quarters (it’s just not the same otherwise!).
VEGEMITE is, to many Brits surprise, completely different to marmite. Yes it looks like industrial waste, but it is absolutely delicious and the perfect cure for a hangover (Very rich in Vitamin B). It is a little known fact that more Australians know the words to the Vegemite song than to the National Anthem (Advance Australia Fair for those playing along at home). So, Australians all let us rejoice that Vegemite is freely available in England!
Also, sausages should be long, thin and made of beef. Tim Tams are better than Penguins, hands down. We also have two types of chips. Potato Chips (aka crisps) and Hot chips. Hot chips should ideally be slathered with chicken salt.
But, if there is one food that I wish I had today, it would be homemade ANZAC Biscuits. These bites of heaven were, rumour has it, originally sent to Australian & New Zealand Troops (ANZACs) on the front line during World War I, as they transported well and the ingredients don’t go off (very important considering compared to the rest of world, Australia is in fact very, very far away).
A delightful combination of oats and golden syrup, Anzac biscuits can be crunchy or gooey, depending on how you make them. Personally, I like them gooey – which is how they turn out if you follow my Mum’s recipe…
Mrs Golding’s ANZAC Biscuits
1 cup (90g) rolled oats – best to use the traditional (not quick-cook)
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
3/4 cup (65g) desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in large bowl. Combine butter and golden syrup in pan, stir over low heat until butter is melted. Combine soda and water, add to butter mixture, stir into dry ingredients while warm. Place 3 level teaspoons of mixture together about 4cm apart on greased oven trays, press down lightly. Bake in slow oven about 20 minutes or until golden brown – loosen biscuits while warm, cool on trays.
All that’s left to do is ENJOY!
Tim Tams, Chicken Salt and Vegemite are all available from the Australia Store in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden.