Thursday, February 23, 2006

Things I Miss About Oz (AKA DownUnder)

Eating Fish & Chips. This is circa 1971
What great table manners...reading the paper at the table!
We're getting our fill of salt and grease...two of the main food groups.
That's half of my mum on the left!

Starting with foods ……..

Fish and Chips
Wrapped in butchers paper and preferably eaten with a view of the ocean, and fresh lemon, of course. This is the best meal ever. Really! For those of you who haven’t yet tasted Australian fish and chips, put this on your list of "things I want to do before I die". Way back then they used newspaper for the final wrapping, as you’ll see in the pic. It was probably great insulation and no one seemed concerned about the germs :)

Vegemite on toast. I tried to make it look appealing, but....Maybe it will to the Aussies :)

On toast, Jatz crackers, Vita Wheats (remember squeezing the little vegemite worms through the wholes?) etc. Even Wheat Bix with butter and vegemite as a snack after school….that was my favorite. Americans just don’t get it. You have to start out eating it on toast fingers as a baby, and then grow up with it. A few years ago I found it here in our area in a specialty gift shop…..a very small jar, and expensive, of course, but some things are worth paying a bit more for.

Fresh Seafood
I haven’t had good seafood since I left Australia, I’m sorry to say. Most of what I’ve eaten here is fairly tasteless, especially the prawns (shrimp). I’m sure it must taste better near some of the coastal regions, but here in the country it’s a sad situation (this is strictly my personal opinion). People around here seem to love the shrimp but I doubt they’ve ever tasted Myall River prawns (Port Stephens, NSW)!! My brother tells me they’ve been fished out. What a terrible loss!

Weekly lamb chops or a roast leg of lamb just doesn’t happen here. Occasionally I find it in the local grocery store but it’s very expensive. Until recently we could buy it from a local couple who raised lambs for meat, but they’ve retired now and given it up. We’ll have to find a new supplier. The meat is not generally a favorite in this country but our kids consider it a real treat to come home and have roast lamb. I guess that’s because they grew up with it.

Aussie sausages
These were one of Ross’ favorite meals when we lived in Oz. He cooked them once for Kylie and Andrew when I was in the hospital after giving birth to Kathy. I must interject that he is generally not the chief cook and bottle washer around here (in fact this is a rarity). He neglected to prick the skins before placing them under the broiler and they blew up….splattered all over the place, even the ceiling. The kids thought this was hysterical. It was the highlight of their time home alone with Dad and they still tell the story with glee :)

Golden Syrup
I love ginger snaps made with it. Molasses is NOT the same! When I was little I used to occasionally sneak a tablespoonful from the can when nobody was looking.

Aussie fruit
Passionfruit and mangos mostly. We can buy mangos in our local stores but they’re usually quite green, and when they finally ripen they’re not nearly as tasty as the Oz mangos. Passionfruit are just not found around here (well, they probably are somewhere....just not here in our area). Oh for a ripe passionfruit, spread over sliced bananas and topped with whipped cream. Mmmmm! I’d love a nice fresh pineapple too. They’re available here but they’re not as good and sweet.

A local Pie Shop!!
A trip to the local bakery….oh, what bliss! Meat pies, sausage rolls, lamingtons, vanilla slices, creamhorns and matchsticks are all things I loved as a child (and as an adult!).

Queensland Blue Pumpkins
We’ve found the squash that tastes the most similar is buttercup squash. We grow an abundant supply of it in our vegetable garden and freeze some for winter. But I really miss those delicious 'blues' baked with a leg of lamb, potatoes, peas and gravy. This was my mum's specialty. Mmmm, good!

I guess that’s enough for one post, lest I bore you all, if I haven’t already.
The other things I miss will be a subject for another post.

Now I'm hungry....I'd better go and cook dinner.


Motherkitty said...[Reply]

What a post! You've made me hungry. My question, though, is what is vegemite? I've seen that name in several places (there is even a blogger called Vegemite Girl) but don't know what it is. My mother made lamb chops as a treat when I was young but haven't had them in years because you can't find them here. When we were visiting in Las Vegas several years ago, I ordered a lamb dish in a very fancy, expensive restaurant at the Mandalay Bay resort. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Haven't had it since.

I'm sure there are many more things you miss about Australia and I, for one, am interested in hearing all about it.

Alice said...[Reply]

Just hold on a moment Kerri, and I'll pass you another box of tissues. You must be weeping copiously with homesickness.

Fish'n'chips - was there anything more delicious when wrapped in newspaper? Tear a hole in the top and burn your fingers on the chips. What bliss.

Vegemite would be enjoyed by more people if only they didn't spread it like jam or peanut butter. It has to be the thinnest of spreads, preferably over real butter. Yum.

Lamb chops were so expensive in England in 1993 that we didn't eat any for 12 months. A few nights after returning home we had chops for dinner. Sara, then aged 10, stopped halfway through the meal and announced, "Oh God, I've missed lamb chops!"

Golden Syrup - much smoother than molasses.

Meat pies and tomato sauce on a winter's day, with their variety of meats or ?. You can now buy electric pie makers which produce a lovely pie in just a few minutes.

Passionfruit is a taste made in Heaven, together with sweet, juicy mangoes and pineapples. It's true that the best place to eat a mango is in the bath.

Thick sausages with gravy, mashed potatoes and peas. Seconds, please.

I'm sure there was something else but if I go looking for it then I'll lose this comment for the second time. I guess the way to an expatriate's heart is through her stomach after all.

Connie and Rob said...[Reply]

It must be awful growing up and having those things at your fingertips and then suddenly not being able to satisfy your taste buds. I have to say that my childhood was so different because I just don't have wonderful memories of food that way. I was a very picky eater (probably still according to most).

I enjoy food now much better than before...I can tell you all about the candy at the Penney Store on the corner when I was little.

Hugs, Connie

Sue said...[Reply]

Hi Kerri,
Thanks for visiting me! My SIL has mentioned most of these foods. We do have a local source here for Veggemite.
She always has it and has raised her two boys to eat it as well. She is "going home" in June for about six weeks. Her family lives in Sydney. Do you get to go back home much?

Kali said...[Reply]

What an excellent post...made me think about all the food I'd miss if I'd left Australia.

FRIDAY'S CHILD said...[Reply]

Nice list of food. Yikes....worms? What do you mean worms? You actually see the worms?

Tanya said...[Reply]

When I lived in Canada the big supermarkets stocked small jars of vegemite and English marmite. Which is NOT the same as New Zealand marmite (ick). The English stuff tastes more like vegemite, but is sticky, almost like honey. It wasn't as good as vegemite, but better than nothing. They sold it in the spice section of the supermarket. Might be worth looking for.

Oh, and what about Tim Tams... surely every Aussie misses them!!

Motherkitty said...[Reply]

Since nobody told me what Vegemite was, I Googled it and found a website that you might be interested in.

This site is dedicated to Vegemite and there is an online catalogue on ordering some, if you are so inclined. Here's your taste of home.

Kerri said...[Reply]

I'm so pleased you all stopped by and left a comment. Thank you!
MKitty...Sorry to leave you hanging! Clever girl for looking up Vegemite. It has a savoury taste and, as Alice says, should be spread very thinly. Thanks for the website! I hope you'll give lamb another try some day (come for a visit and I'll happily cook a roast dinner for you!!). Aussie lamb (or New Zealand lamb) has a better depends on what they're fed, but you can find good lamb over here if you're lucky.
Friday's had me, not real worms. The Vita Wheat crackers have tiny holes and when you sandwich two together, you can squeeze the butter and vegemite through the holes. It's a kid to do :)
Sue, your SIL is so lucky to be having a trip 'home'.
I haven't been to Oz since 2003 and no trip is planned for the near's a wee bit expensive!

kylieps said...[Reply]

Urgh! I can't believe how much I'm missing Aussie foods now! It's really true that there's no better meal than fish and chips on the beach with al the sea gulls swooping around hoping to get a chip when you're not looking.

kylieps said...[Reply]

And timtams! how could I forget timtams!

Alice said...[Reply]

Kylie - ever tried drinking your coffee through a Tim Tam? I haven't but ShellyC is an expert.

Val said...[Reply]

your post is related to one I've been working on, and I was going to tag you with it, namely, what was the most difficult thing for you to get used to in your new country?

I've yet to do that post, but just a comment on yours:
Lamb is now very expensive here too, they say because of the drought. But to give you an idea: I was having a dinner for 7, and had to buy 2 legs of lamb (!!) because the supermarkets are now selling them in smaller pieces, and each leg was $20! Ouch! When we arrived in Melbourne in 1974 you were able to buy a whole lamb at Queen Victoria market for $7.

Loved the story about the exploding sausages! What fun for the kids.

Val said...[Reply]

I've tagged you, Kerri!

ms*robyn said...[Reply]

ahhh what a wonderful post - and to actually find some one who lives outside australia who loves vegimite! I love all the foods you mentioned - the lamb, the passionfruit and fish & chips in newspaper. as well as our beloved queensland blue. Whenever I travel overseas I always have a jar of vegimite with me and absolutely cackle at the looks on the american faces when i spread it on my toast. thanks for this great post, Kerrie xox

Reflection Through The Seasons said...[Reply]

Great post Kerrie. But hold on a minute, have you tasted Welsh lamb? Now that's tasty!
As I was reading through the long list of comments, I was wondering about veggemite and thought it may be something like marmite, it sounds like it is. Yes, quite right Alice, it has to be spread very thinly, nice on toast!

Garden Obsession said...[Reply]

We vacationed in AU and NZ for nearly a month last year and I can attest to the fish and chips and the lamb. The best F&C I had was on Hamilton Island. It was SO crispy and fresh. I literally moaned with every bite. I haven't found its equal since. Even what I had in Melbourne that our Melbournian friends said was top notch wasn't half as good. I'm salivating just thinking of it.

And the lamb... because our local friends have a HUGE Greek family and wanted to throw a little get-together in our honor (and I think there was some footy involved), they borrowed this HUGE spit from someone and roasted a whole freaking lamb! It was SO amazing. Nothing you'd ever find here in the states. Absolutely the most delicious thing ever. Pictures at

Never did try Vegemite. Too many other things to eat! Thank goodness we don't have pie shops in the states. I'd weigh 400 lbs.

I miss those things and Cherry Ripes. I should have bought a box of them before we left. Might have to order them online at some point.

Thanks for sharing all this!

Wendy A said...[Reply]

Look at the response that food bring up. Wow!

I still can't do vegimite but the lamb, F&C, seafood,and pies are a treat. I had abalone for the first time in 30 years. Not many places left with abs. I will think of you next time I bite into a delicious peice of flake.

I am ready to start dinner now.