When you travel to any country, food is undoubtedly one of the main cultural experiences you wish to participate in. However, defining Australian cuisine is more complicated than it is for other countries (for example, Italian cuisine is very well-defined and is world-famous). While there are no doubt famous examples of Australian food out there (meat pies with tomato sauce, lamingtons, barbeque shrimp), many of these foods don’t satisfy a restaurant setting the same way French or Italian cuisine does.
Because Australia is such a multicultural country, even Australian-born people struggle to define their country’s own cuisine. This is because they would have grown up sampling all manner of different cultural dishes (Asian and Arabic cuisine are both extremely popular within Australia).
When you travel to Australia, you might come across the term ‘modern Australian’ when browsing restaurants to visit. The following will explain what this cuisine looks like and why you ought to give it a try during your trip.
It’s a fusion cuisine
The first thing to understand about modern Australian cuisine is that it is a fusion of influences designed to create something new. It mostly takes inspiration from Australian history and all the cultures that have contributed to it and attempts to make something new, hence the ‘modern’ qualifier.
At its heart, modern Australian cuisine acknowledges that Australia is not characterised solely as a colonial offshoot of Britain but is actually a melting pot of cultures that has exploded in multiculturalism since World War 2. And, of course, the indigenous Australian community is represented strongly with the sourcing of ingredients like native fish, emu, wallaby and kangaroo meat.
‘Bush tucker’ is another common source of ingredients in modern Australia cuisine and consists of everything from native grubs and snakes to various naturally occurring berries. These are foods that indigenous Australians and early European settlers would mostly snack on in-between larger meals like Kangaroo or Emu.
Mixing these core ingredients with styles from around the world, modern Australian becomes something truly unique. There’s no shortage of new recipes to try when it comes to modern Australian food.
It encourages experimentation
One of the most beautiful things about modern Australian cuisine is that it is not shackled by strict traditions. While French and Italian chefs experiment, they are in many ways more limited than a contemporary Australian chef who has no long history they feel they need to draw inspiration from.
In this way, modern Australian actually shows international chefs ways to experiment with their own cuisines.
Around the world, Australian chefs are being seen as visionaries in the food industry because they are both passionate about fresh, local produce and are more health-conscious overall.
It can’t be wholly defined – but that’s a good thing
It’s not really possible to define modern Australian cuisine in one sentence since there are so many factors that need to be considered to do it justice. This lack of strict definition is a good thing because it means that one restaurant offering modern Australian can have a menu that’s very different from another.
While you mostly know what to expect when you go to a Japanese or Mexican restaurant, with staples that will be on almost all menus, modern Australian always has some kind of surprise waiting for you. This can make visiting multiple modern Australian restaurants during your trip an exciting adventure in of itself.
Give Modern Australian Cuisine a Try
Now that you have a better understanding of what ‘modern Australian’ means, you can confidently give it a try when you are looking for where to eat in Australia. There’s no shortage of restaurants to sample this cuisine at, and all major cities will have leading restaurants specialising in it.
In fact, the Opera House in Sydney is one of the premier locations to try modern Australian food, with many of the top celebrity chefs working there.