Living the life down under.

The continent of Australia is full of wonder. Its mainland and neighboring island of Tasmania are home to exotic animals. Some are cute and cuddly, such as kangaroos and koalas, which you can play with in a sanctuary. Some are dangerous, like snakes in rainforests and sharks in coastal waters, which are best kept at a distance.

Still, living under has its perks. The best one is the flipped seasons. As a fan of summer and warmth, leaving winter for the sunshine of Australia is a wonderful treat. However, not all changes are easy to adjust to, such as: driving on the other side of the road. It took me several attempts until I found the blinker signal. Throughout the ordeal, I was left with a shiny window, thanks to the hard work of a pair of windshield wipers that kept reminding me that I was a foreigner to this land.

Being a lover of food, the adventures of discovering a new land didn’t stop at tourist attractions, beaches and mountain parks, they extended to local cafes and dishes.

Below are five things that surprised me most about the Aussie food culture.

1. Hotels that are actually…pubs

Sir_William_Wallace_Hotel_Balmain_1Walking around town, especially in the evening hours, I spotted various hotels. These hotels were pretty loud, had a menu, a bar and served food in the main lobby, well into the evening hours. After visiting one or two, I realized that these were not actually hotels but rather pubs. But, why would anyone call a pub a hotel? A quick google search explains it, and the answer actually makes sense.

The Australian pubs originated from British and Irish public houses. When the British colonized the mainland, one of the first establishments to go up were pubs. These businesses had “multiple functions, simultaneously serving as hostelry, post office, restaurant, meeting place and sometimes even a general store.” As the years changed, activities inside the pubs adjusted to the times, yet the outside name stuck on.

2. Macca’s

maccasWhile studying and traveling abroad, I ran into many Australians who referred to McDonald’s as Macca’s. What was surprising, however, was to see some of the local golden arches actually carrying the name. Whether it’s the love of keeping it short and sweet, or whether the Aussies ‘can’t be bothered‘ with the full pronunciation, their slang won the hearts of the decision makers at McDonald’s, and for the first time in history the restaurant chain decided to alter its image for the local market. Considering that ‘Macca’s‘ is the second most popular slang term in the land down under, right after “footy”, which stands for Australian rules football, this was a smart move by the execs.

3. Breaky

Weetbix_StevageRiding the wave of short and sweet names, it’s important to mention that Aussies are very serious about their breakfast, or ‘breaky‘ as they call it. Many of you heard of Vegemite, a super salty and unique tasting, but also healthy spread loaded with Vitamin B. Yet, there is another morning food that is a favorite in the early hours, a cereal called Weet-Bix. It is made with whole grain wheat and has a malty flavor. Locals love to have it with milk, honey and fruits. In addition to its health benefits, it also has a long history, dating to 1920’s. The brand kept up with current diet trends and comes as gluten-free.

4. Kangaroo Meat

Kangaroo_steakIn the northern hemisphere we love deer, but they are also pests. Without any major predators, deer can reproduce in quick numbers, and wreak havoc on agriculture. A similar thing happens in Australia, but their deer can jump high, hide pups in its pockets and give you a mean kick if you bother it too much. Kangaroos are cute, but their numbers need to be kept in check. Hunters in Australia are encouraged to keep the population at bay by preying on them during certain seasons of the year. The result, the kangaroo skin and meat is put to good use. In diet, kangaroo meat is healthier, more sustainable and a local source of protein. Since kangaroos are active, their meat is a bit tougher than beef or veal, but they don’t travel a long way to get on the plate, and aren’t fed antibiotics and corn, making them the perfect burger or meatball option.

5. Juice Craze

SugarcanejuiceAustralians are juice addicts. Every place I went to, or almost every place, offered a fresh juice. The best part, most of the time you paid a basic price for the size of the juice, small or large (which is more like a medium by USA standards), and then picked whichever ingredients you wanted. It was delicious, refreshing and invigorating, especially on super hot days. This makes sense since Aussies are more health conscious than individuals in America, Britain and New Zealand. This is especially true in areas of: buying food free of additives and maintaining a low fat diet. Yet, despite this awareness, Aussies are just as obese as their overseas counterparts. Despite the conflicting results, it was encouraging to see healthy living videos throughout many of the local metro stations. To discover these  for yourself, visit HealthyMeTv by clicking here.

Australia is wild, amazing, crazy and serene all at the same time. It was an unforgettable experience, both through the food consumed by my eyes and by my stomach. After all, it’s good to have two hemispheres that work backwards, there’s always an excuse to visit the other side, especially when winter pays a visit.

Happy travels and yummy eats!

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