Friday, February 25, 2011

Australian Food and Lingo, and other Amusing Australian Expat Things

My refrigerator and pantry is absolutely, inexplicably Aussified... so there you have it, MATE. 
  • I know that "Tasty" cheese is actually Cheddar-- even if no one will admit it.


  • Bi-Carb Soda = baking soda.   I still have not adjusted my personal vocabulary on this one.

  • American Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, and Cheerios =

  • Sultanas = raisins.  Though I do occasionally see "raisins" here, so that may be considered a variety, I'm still not sure about the whole thing.  
  • Grain Waves = Sun Chips, only thicker and not quite as good-- but close enough when you're without all your favorite snack items.


    And though I'm not a huge fan of yellow mustard, I am always amused when I see this at the grocery store-- which of course is Woolworths (as in the 1960's five and dime store).


    And besides American-style food items disguised in Australian packaging, there are some items I've been introduced to in Australia which now I will always appreciate and eat, and will definitely miss, if and when we leave Australia:
    • In the last year I've made lamb shanks, cutlets, and lamb backstraps; and tonight I made some mystery lamb cut-- fried those bad boys up in a pan alongside some "chips".  And to give credit where credit is due, the fries were made in my shiny, brand new Actifry by Tefal.  And OMG!  I cannot believe how damn good they came out.  About ten years ago or more, I attempted to make  homemade french fries by simply cutting up potatoes and baking them on a tray-- and I've got two words for the outcome on that, NOT DELICIOUS.  But recently my friend told me about this contraption that, with only one spoon of oil, and an air-blowing, slow-twirling, swirling whirling, hunk of metal-love-- it makes "chips" that will blow your mind.   Thanks Blondie.  
    • No wait, just one one thing on tonight's Actifry-chips-- did I mention they were crispy, and delicious, and I'll go as far as to say they tasted like they were from McDonalds (a.k.a "Maccas" in Australia)?   How could I have not known about this sooner?  Is this miracle machine selling in America?   To think of all the meals we've wasted without low fat french fries, what a shame. :) ha.
    My chips in my brand-new, shiny Actifry space ship.
    • Another thing I've picked up here is a love for ricotta cheese and jam on toast-- and/or ricotta and avocado on toast with tomahto.   Sorry, I just let some of my new found Aussie accent slip out.
    • My six year old eats a butter, Vegemite, and Tasty Cheese sandwich for lunch every day... it's the only thing he wants.  It's shocking. 
      • Finally, I've tasted the almost official national dessert, pavlova.  Yum!  Who knew meringue topped with whipped cream and fruit would be so light and delicious-- and pretty?

      (This photo belongs to vickaaaay on flickr, as the photo of the pavlova we made was not a good representation of pavlova).

      • And what better to top pavlova with, than passionfruit.  Passionfruits are eaten by slicing the little oval-shaped fruit in half, then scooping out the pulp and tasty little black crunchy seeds.  It's tart and sweet and fun to eat.  We put it over sliced bananas or ice cream or pavlova.  It's like we're practically Australian right?  And when necessary, you don't even have to mess with the real fruit, which is especially nice when you're making passionfruit cocktails, because in Australia we've got this...

      • Lastly--- sausages.  Sausages, sausages, sausages everywhere.  Dude-- I said SAUSAGES.  Nuff said.
      • Moving onto Aussie beverages, there's a lovely variety of juice in Australia called Apple Blackcurrant, I'd compare it's popularity here to CranApple in the U.S.  I can't say I'll actually miss this one if we left Sydney, as I'd prefer me some CranApple or CranGrape or CranWhatever anyday... but for now Apple Blackcurrent is fine.

        • Another popular drink in Australia is Yakult.  It's a fermented milk drink.  Wow, that makes it sound really appetizing.  Not.  But it is a tiny little bottle filled with pro-biotic goodness.  It's helped with the eczema in our family and my kids love it.  Very popular in the school lunchbox crowd.  Thank you for introducing us to Yakult, Skye!  or should I say, wild dinner party hostess?


        Some potentially entertaining Aussie Lingo: 
        • Rubber = eraser.  You should have seen my mom's face when one of the kids said he "needed a rubber".  She may still be in shock over it.  Priceless memories :).  
        • Chucking a sickie = playing hookey.  And if you don't know what either of those mean, then you don't need to know. 
        • I know what "ta" means, but I have yet to say it.  It's Aussie for "thanks", but it just feels too awkward for me to actually use.  Maybe next year?
        • I just told a mum (mom) from school that her child left his "runners" at our house.  Runners = sneakers. 
        • I tell friends to bring their "swimmers" when they come over.  They reply that they'll grab their "cozzies" and come over.  Swimmer & cozzies = bathing suits. 
        • Arvo = afternoon.
        • My children colour (color) with textas.  Textas = markers (as in magic markers).
        • I've recently found out that they do have tater tots here-- they're just called "potato gems".  I think that's really cute.
        • Sunnies = sunglasses.
        • Prezzies = presents.

        And I just have a few other things to say today about being an expat life in Sydney:
        • The "no hat, no play" playground rule is really, really good; children are not allowed outside at school without a sunhat.  Personally, I think it should be international law-- and as long as we're changing international law, let's institute the Aussie school calender year internationally as well.  It begins the end of January, and ends the beginning of December.  There are four terms of approximately nine weeks each and four long breaks.  It's smartly structured so that, just as you are getting really damn sick of the whole school routine-- you get a couple of weeks off to just hang out.  It's mo' balanced.  What's not to like?
        • And the last thing I've got to say is... I'm not sure how it's possible that after nearly four years in Australia I've almost forgotten how convenient it is to "pay at the pump" for gas (that's American for "petrol") .   I thought the day would never come that I would pull into the petrol station and not yearn to swipe my card before I pump.  But somehow... someway... paying at the pump has become a long distant memory-- in the scheme of things.  But come on Australia-- you've gotta get on that horse!
        One last photo here-- Sting at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony as part of his Symphonicity Tour.  AWESOME.  Though I have to admit, I think the Sydney Symphony stole the show.


        So what, we had a view of the back of his head, you wanna make something of it?  We did however, have the perfect view of the symphony.


        Oh yeah, who's your daddy?



        ChiTown Girl said...

        That was an awesome little lesson on all things Aussie. Thanks! :)

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Thanks Chitown- are you guys still under like 5 ft. of snow over there?

        Natalie said...

        I am so proud of you, and I am so proud of my country too. :)

        I believe that raisins are made from drying red grapes and sultanas are made from white.
        Also, call it what you will - Bega cheese sure is tasty. :)

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Natalie- Thanks, so there are raisins and sultanas here?! Okay, noted.

        Anonymous said...

        Nice! Love seeing all the different looking boxes. The fact that they call it "Tasty" cheese though makes me think they're trying hard to sell it! >;-) By the way, if you message me your address, I will so send you bags of real Sunchips! Where did you get that machine? I am going to have to try to find one here.
        -Ann Helms

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Hi Ann- Thanks for the offer! We sometimes order food things on, then my mom forwards them to us-- I think we've got Golden Grahams on the way to us right now :)

        Francine said...

        Just had a conversation with some Aussies who visited the US recently and they were telling me how annoying pay-at-the-pump is! Something about having to answer questions to check out--and being asked if you want to add a hotdog to your petrol at 10:30 in the morning, and what about a car wash.... I guess I'm used to speeding through those questions. Odd to see it from a different perspective. I can't imagine pay-at-the-pump being anything but convenient.

        Francine said...

        Oh and please tell us where you get an Actifry. Other than potatoes and sweet potatoes, have you tried anything else in it?

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Francine-- well I know about the car wash question-- but a hot dog?? Wouldn't you have to go inside to get one? Gross. Though if they could shoot a costco kosher all beef hot dog out to the pump like a drive thru bank teller way-- I might take one. haha

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Francine- I got the Actifry at Bing Lee, but you can get one at Harvey Norman or on ebay. Bing Lee had a special on them, and as I go to check out the manager says, "did someone give you a price on this"? I say no. He then rings me up at $30 more than the sign said. I tell him that's more than it was listed for and he says-- oops, then gives me the advertised price + $5 off. Scam artists. Seriously?

        Kirst said...

        Love that post! I never think about how strange we are in Australia because I don't know any better. I wouldn't want it any other way. I like the crazy names for things and my "annoying accent" (although I honestly believe I don't have an accent). I'm going to follow for sure! :-)

        laura said...

        this is such a great post - so true, so fun - i have been here since november and every supermarket trip is a new adventure. thanks for capturing in one post!

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Kirst- I love it too. And I always use Aussie slang for the rest of our lives!

        laura- Thanks, I agree-- Woolies always an adventure haha.

        Anonymous said...

        I still remember going to visit my husband in the States and trying desperately to find a good toasted cheese sandwich! I'd try a different cheese each time and it was never our cheese! I kept saying to him "I just want tasty cheese" and he's say "But they're all tasty cheeses Lauren!" It wasn't until he moved here that he said "Oh you wanted cheddar!"

        I also remember when my husband moved here how he thought it was rude to just leave your car at the pump while you go in to pay, because other people had to wait to pump theirs. He's adjusted now!!

        steck said...

        I've learned that the Woolie's here has nothing to do with F.W. Woolworth's in the US. Once upon a time, the name had some cachet, and the American company had not taken out a trademark in Australia. So the Woolie's here just stole the name.

        When I lived here in the 90s, you could get McPavlova at Mickey D's ("for a limited time only"). They also had cappuccino for AU$1. Those were the days.

        I have said "ta" on occasion. I've also learned to say "double 4" and "triple 5", that sort of thing in phone numbers. I'm also good with "zed" as in the last letter of the alphabet.

        Sorry, ix-nay on the blackcurrant. In Britain, they have a blackcurrant drink called Ribena. It would be charitable to call the taste "vomitous".

        Last I checked, New Jersey and Oregon still have laws against pay-at-the-pump. Can we lobby them, too? Oh, bother, it doesn't matter -- I don't have a car, anyway.

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Anonymous- That is so funny-- "all cheeses are tasty cheese!" I love it. And I agree that it is annoying to have to leave your car at the pump while there's a line of cars waiting for you to move.

        Steck- YES!! How could I have left that off-- double 00, triple 2, I still have issues as people tell me their phone number using that. But I am all about the Zed!

        The Baker Family said...

        too funny, when you come to my house I will have to get you some Aussie baking soda picked up from Woolies today!

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Bakers- Yes, and nice car :)

        Cherie said...

        Loving yr blog and laughing a lot at how you see the differences! :)

        @ steck, Australian Woolies didn't 'steal' the US branded name. It was originally from the UKs Woolworths.

        And Ribena is here in australia too.

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Cherie- Thanks! And I actually like grape Ribena-- isn't it like strong grape juice?

        Brendan said...

        A few points:

        "Tasty" cheese is just the mid-strength cheddar. In Australia it traditionally comes in three varieties - "mild", "tasty" and "vintage". It just refers to how long the cheese has been aged for and the strength of its flavour. I grew up going on holidays to Bodalla, the home of Aussie cheddar, so I can say this with some authority.

        Yakult is actually Japanese. It's really big across Asia.

        Ribena is not grapes, it's blackcurrant cordial and it's delicious! Although a New Zealand schoolgirl recently proved that its claims of having more Vitamin C than any other source were a total lie. In fact it contains no vitamin C whatsoever! Still, it is delicious, no matter what "steck" says.

        Americans often lament the lack of pay-at-the-pump here. I agree: it's terribly inconvenient. But it's not because we're especially technologically backwards. Like most industries in Australia, service stations are controlled by a small cartel of major companies. 90% of a petrol station's profit comes from items purchased in the shop. When they tried to introduce pay-at-the-pump here they blocked it because their franchises would suffer if people weren't forced to go inside to pay and, while there, buy their chocolate bars, energy drinks ($4!!) and Michael Buble CDs. This is the price of living in a small, uncompetitive country. Tragically, American-style free market capitalism only really works when you have 300 million people to sell to.


        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Brendan- Thanks so much for that clinic in cheddar cheeses! I have been trying to figure out where Tasty fit into the cheddar spectrum for so long!

        And that's interesting that Yakult is Japanese-- I thought it was European.

        AND--- pay at the pump still is a thorn in my side, but glad to hear I'm not alone-- though I figured I wasn't.

        South Beach Mom said...

        Can you believe how big they all are?? I feel like I keep in touch with you with your blog. Australia is on the top of my list since I watched Oprah. I really enjoyed this post. xoxoxox

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        South Beach- forgot to mention that I got your holiday card-- two weeks ago!!! I was in shock-- where the heck was it since it was postmarked December??? so strange!

        Bree said...

        This is so funny, i stumbled upon your blog because I was googling WHY there is no pay at the pump in Oz... I have been here for 5 years now and it never ceases to piss me off when I have to queue behind some slowpoke who's meandering around inside the shop cruising for his chocolates and cokes... argh! That and the fact that the stay open trigger tab has been removed and is apparently illegal here (God only know's why) so you actually have to stand and pump your own gas (petrol). WTF?!?! :)
        I will say though, I don't know how I'll survive when I return to America someday and have to give up scotch fingers and mint slices. oh heaven!

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Bree- Hi! You sound like we should be "mates"! Ha. And I always wondered why the little gas pumping tab wasn't on the pumps! Illegal?? Is that like it's illegal to have those little chain locks on your front door (where you can open it a little which chain attached)-- what's up with that?

        Surely we can find a Mint Slice equivalent in America-- right?

        steck said...

        Wikipedia backs up my claim, that the Australian company stole the Woolworth's name from F.W. Woolworth of the US. See

        I heard this story on the radio some time ago.

        akroezen said...

        Thanks for your comments over on my page :) Love the post....but where are your Tim Tams?!?! They have to be my favorite Aussie cuisine!!
        Another Aussie term I can't get used to: calling Sprite Lemonade. It irritates me.

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        steck- Very informative :).

        akroezen- Tim Tams are only mentioned when they have their own post dedicated to them. They're THAT important. haha

        Jade Carver said...

        steck - if you try to use Wikipedia as a source in an Australian university, you get an automatic fail.

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Hi Jade! Is that because they think it's unreliable? or do you know why?

        Jade Carver said...

        It's a user edited 'information' website. People hack it and deliberately post misinformation as a lark!

        Wiki is good for general research and sometimes it can lead to finding good sources. However citing Wiki as a source, you have a 50-50 chance of your 'facts' being utter BS.

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Jade- Hmmm, I think I need to give that more consideration rather than just accepting it as my 21st century encyclopedia then!

        Alan said...

        What are you talking about? Pay at the pump is available in Australia.
        Go to this website

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Alan- Thanks for the link. It shows one of the locations is near me, the one I always go to-- but the only way you can pay at the pump is with their special epump card-- not a credit card... at least last time I checked.

        Anonymous said...

        Florida Girl, you've made my day. An Aussie living in Western New York and feelin' homesick. I miss fairy bread, burger rings, pavlova,... oh and my family and friends, ha ha. Cheers, Dani

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Anonymous- Ah, we are leading parallel lives on opposite sides of the world-- well please enjoy some American stuff for me!

        Michelle said...

        I'm an expat living with a small child in Adelaide (for 6 yrs) and although I miss pay-at-the-pump, what gives me the "shits" is when people here don't take the first available slot at the petrol station. If the car in front has moved, no one bothers to drive around the car that's stationary behind and try to get the line moving! People just sit there and they HAVE TO go to the side that their fuel pump is on! Mind you, the hoses on petrol pumps aren't that long either and not to have the stay open trigger is annoying too.

        I think when the AU$ was worth less I accepted that things were more expensive. Now that our money is higher than the US$, I feel frustrated with the high costs of living. But both me and my husband realise that we just don't have the population nor the competition here so we bitch about it occasionally and then adjust.

        I love Ribena. It's originally English and yes, blackcurrant (because it grows well in that climate). Yakult is Japanese - have you not seen the commercial where they talk about the "Shirota" strain of probiots developed by Mr. Shirota?

        In the UK, they have Sultanas, Raisins & Currants like here. Yes, Natalie is right, sultanas are what we called Golden Raisins in America.

        I didn't understand what Textas were until I had kids and then realised that it was a brand but they used it generically. How about Chux? I worked in a cafe once and they told me to get the Chux and wipe it. I was like WHAT!? Well, it's those blue towel thingys.

        I just had the conversation this arvo w/a Kiwi friend about "Ta" - hate it and there are many more like us.

        BTW, you know that there is an American food store in Melbourne? They're online and will ship. You can get some US stuff when the Sydney Costco opens soon. The Melbourne one was cool. I used my US card there and there were sooo many American accents was weird.

        Great blog.

        Jenn Brigole said...

        This is wonderful! I've been craving for anything mexican lately. I just haven't made the time yet and I don't think I want to be left alone with a margarita. Cheers!

        Florida Girl In Sydney said...

        Michelle- Thanks for all the info and I am familiar with USA Foods and find stuff at David Jones too! Cheers mate!

        Jenn- Go with the margarita :)

        Andrew said...

        Thanks Michelle,
        As a newbie to Florida it's nice to read some funny and interesting observations from your point of view about my home town Sydney. I've had just as much fun learning the US lingo like fanny pack = bum bag, flip flops = thongs etc and I think the reason the Aussie's don't have pay at the pump gas is they want you spending more money inside. I must admit paying at the pump is super convenient but from a business point of view, I'm sure they lose lots of sales from it?

        Hannah DeMilta said...

        One of my favourite food memories when I first moved here was asking for a lemonade at the restaurant and getting a sprite instead. I was so confused, I thought she misheard me. I did it again the next time I was out until someone had to explain that asking for a lemonade will always get you a sprite here. I like getting "old fashioned lemonade" from the store but it's a bit expensive here.