Australian pt I (a-e)
The Good Arnotts
They may no longer be Australian-owned and they may have brought out one too many variants of their flagship Tim Tam but the Rozella-logoed brand has a stranglehold on their domestic biscuit market that McVities could only dream of. Home of Vita-Weat crackers, the perennially cute Tiny Teddy and the moreish Kingston. Criminally, they no longer make the magnificent Mandarin Slice. Arnott’s, I admire you, but will never forgive you.
The Bad Avocados
Like a greasy, green putty that taste vaguely of leaves – Avos, as they are marketed, seem to be the emperor’s new vegetable (although they’re a fruit). Until now, no one has had the gumption to say ‘No, this is not a pleasant thing to eat, this ‘fruit’ has no taste and has the texture of waste matter’. Speaking out against the avocado? Allow me to step to the fore.
The Good Banh Mi
I am aware that a Vietnamese pork sandwich is not technically Australian, but due to the relative proximity to their homeland and the wonderful thing that is immigration – this textural treat had made its presence known on the streets of Sydney long before it managed to be the darling of New York City. And they had the good sense to leave it to old Vietnamese women tucked behind impossibly compact counters in ‘Hot Bread’ shops, rather than turn it into an it-food.
The Bad Beetroot
Historical texts tell us that beetroot was used in cakes to add sweetness and moistness. Luckily, in these modern times, we now we have cakes that don’t taste of dirt, so we can leave these purple stain-bringers where they belong – in the ground. And, no they do not improve a hamburger, despite what the Antipodeans would have us believe.
The Good Chicken Salt
Salt is a noble substance – without it our bodies would quickly cease to function. The word salary is derived from the Latin salarium, meaning the money given to soldiers for them to buy salt. So closely is it linked to our food evolution, we use it to describe one of our taste sensations.
Why wouldn’t you try to improve it?
Add some chicken extract, powdered celery and onion plus some other magical ingredients* and hey presto! – you have chicken salt. The preferred seasoning for Australian ‘hot’ chips and guaranteed to give you that just been swimming in the ocean mouth feel. *probably best not ask.
The Bad Chico Roll
In their heyday these bastardised spring rolls sold 40 million a year to wide-eyed innocent Aussies – don’t judge them, they were different times. They weren’t to know the deep-fried chip shop snack they were tucking into was a culinary abomination. Created by a boilermaker in the 1950s, as the perfect football-watching fare, they sadly became a semi-ironic icon and can still be found today, hatching out of their monogrammed paper bag pupa under heat lamps in eerily lit takeaways.
The Good Dark Beer
Dark beer is not Australian. That has already been pointed out to me. My riposte is that all my favourite dark beers are Australian, including my go-to everyday brew, Toohey’s Old – so it makes the list. I love the chocolate-tinged flavour profile and the old-man connotations.
The Bad Dagwood Dog
The Antipodean version of the corndog, like its US counterpart, this battered, deep-fried hot dog on a stick is synonymous with fairs and shows. Sold at stalls and out of vans to the background hubbub of fairground attractions, it is woven into the upbringing of nearly all Aussies. That isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The Good Eggplant
Despite being very attractive and incredibly tactile, eggplant, otherwise known to the more civilised as aubergine, is a rather bland vegetable. But with a nifty bit of charring and a couple of additions you have the dip of kings – Baba Ganoush. Maybe Australia’s large Lebanese population is one of the reason that my favourite dip sits side-by-side with the globally popular hummous in supermarkets and delis everywhere. Or maybe not. Either way, I thank that reason and doff my hat to the consequences.
The Bad Eucalyptus sweets
It’s not so much a flavour, more of a cleaning product – and has no place in foodstuffs. Koalas eat almost exclusively eucalyptus leaves, they consume roughly 500g a day and have one of the smallest brains (weight to size ratio) of any animal. I rest my case.