"Australia is one of seven continents and constitutes most of the Pacific region, both in terms of size and population." (Compton & Warren 2008, P 126). The indigenous people influence food and Australian culture and people immigrated into Australia from other part of the world. Typically, multicultural influx of the people from other part of the world settling in Australia greatly influences the contemporary Australian cuisine.
Objective of this paper is to discuss culture cuisine in Australia. The paper uses cultural capital theory and theory of social differentiation to discuss how cuisine has been used to establish hierarchy in Australia.
Cultural influence on Australia Cuisine
Concept of culture is the social norms, custom, morals, belief and traits guiding people conduct within a society. On the other hand, "food culture is the ensemble of shared knowledge, attitudes and practices that people bring to selecting, preparing and eating food. It exhibits in some degree order, symbolism and continuity." (Bannerman, 2011 P. 58). Australia has a diverse culture reflecting values and tradition of the people. Millions of migrants who have settled in Australia since the Second World Wars have greatly influenced cultural orientation in Australia. Typically, influx of the people from different national background into the Australia greatly influences the Australian cuisine making Australia to become one of the most diverse cuisines in the world. For over 40,000 years, Australian cuisine was greatly dominated by the indigenous food. Indigenous Australians led nomadic lifestyle as gatherers, hunters and moving from one place to the other searching for food as they moved. However, before the arrival of migrants, indigenous settlers have already developed satisfactory cuisine very adapted to the environment. (Bannerman 2011). Staple food of the indigenous people is Australian flora and fauna which include seafood, and kangaroo meat. Other food widely eating by the indigenous people are wallaby, emu, lizard, bongong moth, snakes, and witchetty grubs. Indigenious people also eat fruits, bush berries and honeys.
In 1788, European settlers arrived at Australia through Sidney harbor, however, British settlers were unable to adjust to the indigenous food, and thus, they introduced British agricultural system in Australia producing western fresh produce. After initial difficulties, they were able to produce abundant of fresh produce. British also introduced sheep and cattle grazing for the production of beef and sheep meat. For more than 200 years, cultures of diverse people moving into Australia from around the world have broadened contemporary Australian cuisine.
"When the British settled in Australia over 200 years ago, they brought food customs and recipes with them. Some dishes still evident in Australia today are shepherds or cottage pie, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, Cornish pasties and apple pie." (Compton & Warren 2008, P 127).
Presently, Australian cuisines reflect cultural diversity because there are wide range of new foods, products and tastes. Until the present day, European cuisine is still present in the Australian menu. Many people in Australia still follow British tradition of "a hot Christmas meal with plum pudding and brandy custard for dessert." (Compton & Warren 2008, P 127).
In the mid-1800s, during the gold rushes, many people immigrated in the Australia with the intent to make fortune. Most of these people were from China and Britain, and after the gold rushes; many Chinese settled in Australia and became market gardeners. Typically, market gardeners played important roles in Australian food needs, and by the end of 19th century, labor-intensive faming became synonymous with the Chinese in many Australian town and cities.
After the Second World War, Australian government introduced a subsidized scheme to increase the population, and many people migrated from Italy, Greece and Britain into the Australia. The influx of people with different national origins brought in different culture, custom, and food patterns into the Australia. For example, influx of people after the Second World War led to the introduction of spaghetti bolognaise and souvlaki by people from Italy and Greece. During 1970s, migration of people from Asia and African countries increased. Many people from Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and Middle East migrated to Australia; the issue has a significant impact on the customs and food pattern in Australia. Globalization and present development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have also a strong impact on Australian cuisine. There are now varieties of diverse food in Australia originated from different part of the world. Typically, there has been influence of "Thai cuisine, with ingredients such as curry pastes, vermicelli and lemon grass becoming readily available in Australia." (Compton & Warren 2008, P 127).
Present day Australian Cuisine
With influx of people with different culture, Australia has one of the most extraordinary assortments of food ingredients. During the British colonial period, British settlers established strong Anglo-Celtic style recipes. Subsequent influx of multicultural immigration from Asia and Mediterranean regions has made Australia to develop a strong sophisticated food culture. Besides Anglo-Celtic cuisine introduced by the British settlers, the cuisines from Germany, China, Italy, Greece, Thailand, Vietnam, Lebanon, and Malaysia have also had a strong impact on modern Australian cuisine. There are wide varieties of foods across the Australian cities, and there are examples of Aprosciutto in Western Australia, chevre in Queensland, and Brie and cold-pressed olive oil in South Australia. At Victoria in Australia, there is assorted cuisine such as balsamic vinegars. Snails and milk-fed lamb are also available in New South Wales. Most of the cuisine found in the Northern Territory are mud crabs, and smoked salmon. It is apparent that Australia cuisine comes from collage of culinary that influences the splash of olive oil.
Many factors lead to the success of Australia culinary. Diversity of microclimates leads to the production of mangoes such as custard apples, strawberries, coffee beans and citrus fruits. Additionally, the lush coastal is suited for the production of farmhouse cheeses, and the native forests in Australia is well suited for the production of honey with exceptionally flavor and fragrance. Vast costal line in Australia also yields succulent crayfish, oysters, and tuna with tremendous delicacy. In the temperate region, Australian vegetables are widely eaten. In urban areas, there is a large-scale availability of fresh food found in the supermarkets, hypermarkets, and grocery stores. During spring, there is wide variety of Australian cuisine such as Cabbage, Mushrooms, Leek, Cauliflower, Spinach, Beetroot, Artichoke, Rhubarb, and Peas.
There are also produce such as Eggplant, Tomato, Squash, Cucumber, Capsicum and Zucchini in the summer. With varieties of available produce in Australia, many Australian chefs are quick to experiment the ingredients and drawing their cross-cultural inspirations of modern Australia. "Over the past 30 years, Australia has become one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth, and when the present generation of chefs took over the restaurant kitchens; their cultural heritage seasoned their food." (Compton & Warren 2008, P 130).
With success of Australian cuisine, Australia is now exporting chefs to other part of the world. Recently, two Australian chefs were awarded Michelin stars, the ultimate accolade of the food world at London restaurants. Typically, impact of British tradition has been reflected in every aspect of Australian cuisine, there is Australian meat pie, roast dinners, and fish & chips are widely popular. In the metropolitan centers, there are several famous nouvelle cuisine and haute cuisine. Influence of globalization also has significant impact on Australian cuisine. Organic, kosher, biodynamic and hala foods have become widely available leading to the revival of interest in bush foods. Recently, there is influx of Indian cuisine, American cuisine, French cuisine, Japanese cuisines and Spanish cuisine in Australia.
While cuisine from other part of the world is mixed with indigenous Australian food, nevertheless, some indigenous cuisines retain their unique values. Aborigines are the traditional people who discover the Australian traditional food. Aborigines have lived in Australia for more than thousands years, and they have discovered several indigenous foods. Today in Australia, the indigenous food is commonly called bush foods. Some of the indigenous foods in Australia are listed in Table 1.
Table 1: Indigenous Cuisine in Australia
These are the berries found in a desert shrub similar to the tomato.
A small green plum rich in vitamin C and having a sharp taste.
Nut found in the native bunya pine tree
Variety of lilly pilly strong with a clove taste
Kurrajong flou r
This is the flour produced from the seeds of the kurrajong tree
Known as a wild desert peach. It is also well-known as outback fruit.
Dry-roasted seeds found from different varieties of acacia trees
This is a groundcover plant which is similar to spinach.
Theoretical Framework in Australia Cuisine
Over the years, cuisine has become a means to establish hierarchy in Australia. Theory of social differentiation examines how people use food as a means to establish hierarchy which includes inclusion, exclusion and social distinction. In Australia, food has become a symbol to convey self-identity, reinforcing symbolic boundaries as well as conveying social information. Cultural capital theory also reveals how eating…