Agriculture and farming is done on a huge scale in Australia, wheat being the principal crop grown. There is also a wide variety of fruits, nuts and vegetables, the largest crops being oranges, apples, bananas, chestnuts, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes. Tropical fruits grown in Queensland and the northern territory include mangoes and pineapples. There are over 135,000 farms in Australia covering 61% of the land, where cattle, sheep and pigs are grazed. Beef is the largest agricultural enterprise in Australia and is the second largest beef exporter in the world after Brazil.
Beef is widely available and grass fed beef tends to be quite a bit cheaper than other meats. Lamb is also a large market, with the focus now being on the meat rather than wool as it was previously. Pork also plays an important part in the meat market, with an estimated 2,000 pig farmers producing 5 million pigs each year. Kangaroo meat is also widely available and is very low in fat and quite delicious, but you will find that not all Australians like to eat it. There has also been a growth in the dairy products, Australia produces over 100 varieties of cheese. Around 60% of the cheeses produced in Australia are cheddar-like cheeses other cheeses are specialist cheeses made by more than 90 specialist cheese producers across Australia, such cheeses tend to be mainly English, French, Italian, Greek and Dutch style cheeses.
Australia’s cuisine now reflects the fact that it is a multicultural society, with large numbers of immigrants from all over the world bringing their own influence to bear on the everyday dishes eaten both in restaurants and within the home. What was once an English- based diet, now has influences from the rest of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Some people say that there really is no ‘traditional food’ of Australia as most things are adapted from other countries, however there are some foods that are now native to Australia.
There are many traditional Australian foods such as meat pies, sausage rolls, kangaroo burgers, pavlova, lamingtons, Vegemite, cheesymite scrolls, tim tams, just to name a few. A lamington is a dessert of Australian origin and was named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. It consists of squares of sponge cake coated first in a layer of,traditionally, chocolate icing, then dipped in desiccated coconut. Lamingtons are sometimes served as two halves sandwiched with a layer of cream or strawberry jam. Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside. The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. A Tim Tam is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate. A Cheesymite Scroll consists of a spiral of baked bread, similar to a pain aux raisins with vegemite and cheese in place of raisins.
Of course one of the main things that springs to mind is the ‘barbeque’, with the sunshine and ample fresh produce what better way to go than to eat and cook outdoors. Australia has a large wine industry,with every state producing wine. The main wine regions are in the cooler southern states of South Australia, New south Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. The most famous wine districts being ‘Hunter Valley’ and ‘Barossa Valley’. Australian wines are impressive and the fact that they are the world’s fourth largest wine exporter is testement to their popularity. Beer arrived in Australia with Capitan Cook and is still popular today, apart from the family owned Coopers Brewery, Fosters owns all the large breweries in Australia, with 95% of beer produced being lager. Dark beers and Stout are still made and there is an increase in the production of Guiness due to the popularity of Irish-themed pubs. Most of the ‘Fosters’ lager made in Australia is made for export.
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