Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine

  • White believes that the evolution of Australian Cuisine, among other factors, occurred due to the advent of refrigeration in Australia. ‘This had a huge influence to country people and city folk alike. Previously, country people relied on a ‘cellar’ at most homesteads, especially in remote areas’, says Judy White. Another reason as she identifies is the lifestyle changes caused by urbanisation, industrialisation and immigration in Australia.

  • In Australia, TV cooking shows have been educating the mass viewers, as Judy White points out: ‘[TV food shows play] a positive influence and some include nutritive contents of dishes and new foods, availability of new ingredients, beautiful style and presentation, correct cooking methods for ingredients especially newer foods (such as kangaroo) and correct storage of ingredients.’ As a consequence, more discerning and demanding consumers help to elevate the status of Australian cuisine.

We speak with Judy White, who spent her career educating Aussies in the art of cookery, to get her point of view on Australian cuisine.

Judy White graduated from Larnook College in the Melbourne suburb of Armadale as a Home Economics/Science teacher. During her long career, she appeared on ABC TV, taught HSC Home Economics at Ravenswood School for Girls in Sydney for 18 years and was the co-owner of Caleula School of Cooking and Etiquette, which was mentioned in cookery schools around the world for a decade. She is now happily retired.

“Our cuisine is now a multicultural one because of the influences of the Asian countries being geographically close. Primarily the influence was English heritage, then the Gold Rush brought a strong Chinese influence followed by European countries and now it is definitely ‘multicultural.’ “

Definition

AC: How would you define Australian cuisine?

JW: Our cuisine is now a multicultural one because of the influences of the Asian countries being geographically close. Primarily the influence was English heritage, then the Gold Rush brought a strong Chinese influence followed by European countries and now it is definitely “multicultural.”

AC: What distinguishes our cuisine from that of other countries?

JW: There are many factors which have helped to distinguish our cuisine.

  1. The large size of Australia – from the tropics to the snow allows many varieties of fruits and vegetables to be cultivated and due to modern transportation, to be readily available. Of course, as well, many varieties of crops, meats, fish, etc.
  2. The fact that people from many countries have migrated here. They have cultivated many ingredients of their heritage and caused others to be introduced. This has given an amazing variety to our cuisine.
  3. The weather is so varied that many foods may be available all year round causing a wonderful variety in the diet.

Australian dish

AC: What, in your opinion, is a truly Australian dish?

JW: Difficult to say just “one”, as this question has been “pondered” by so many.

  1. Older people in the population would still say – roast lamb and mint sauce with roasted vegetables, etc. reason, this was an absolute “original”.
  2. In the hotter climate regions, fresh fruit salad because of the huge varieties of fruits available – pineapples, in the North to berries, (and apples) in Tasmania.
  3. The Australian meat pie – Australia is such a sporting country summer and winter. These are served because of convenience and tradition.
  4. There are also “fads” which “come and go” each season but they change constantly.

Evolution

AC: How has Australian cuisine changed during your lifetime?

JW: Of course, my point of view is influenced by having an English father and Australian mother. My mother was brought up on a large property with a private school education. I was born in 1934 and in my early years lived in a Victorian country town, later Melbourne and Melbourne Uni.

The English influence was very strong for the first 12 years, a hot lunch as all school children went home for a hot lunch/dinner and in the evening, “tea”. Dining out was not a tradition – “Suppers” served at Balls, musical evenings, card evenings. (Adults only).

Due to industrialisation and increase in the population of cities, a “packed lunch” for schools and offices at midday which has changed to coffee shops, snack bars and orders taken and delivered to offices.

“Dining out” was confined to top class Hotels in cities with a few top class restaurants (in the 1950s). e.g. Melbourne has always led the way here and people dined at “The Society”, Flamingoes, etc. Further to the English influence – “pies” often savoury followed by sweet, steak & kidney then apple? More cold weather foods as well!!

Other influences:

Migration and hence the introduction of the Italians (Spaghetti Bolognese!!)

Changes in lifestyles from farming communities to large and larger cities and industrialisation.

Better nutrition education.

Availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains EVOKED salads of every variety.

REFRIGERATION: This had a huge influence on country people and city folk alike. Previously, country people relied on a “cellar” at most homesteads, especially in remote areas.

Weather – outdoor barbecues, seaside picnics.

TV cooking shows

AC: How important a role do you believe TV cooking shows play in influencing Australian Cuisine?

JW:

  1. They have caused a huge surge of interest.
  2. They have introduced variety in the cuisine.
  3. They have caused a large sale of cookbooks.
  4. I must mention that television shows have “fashions” – eg. medical series, crime series, now “food” series – oh! So many.
  5. A positive influence and some include nutritive contents of dishes and new foods, availability of new ingredients, beautiful style and presentation, correct cooking methods for ingredients especially newer foods (kangaroo) and correct storage of ingredients.

AC: What is your favourite cuisine?

JW: French food as I have travelled extensively over many decades throughout France. I have been privileged to have eaten at many 5 star restaurants in the south of France during the Cannes Film Festivals over many decades Ooh la! La! Also in Paris as well as other areas such as Dordogne.