While traveling in the great land of “Oz” (derived from the pronunciation of “AUS”), we definitely haven’t been suffering for tasty food. Surprisingly, after we received the van, we weren’t able to eat out too often. Between not knowing where we will be at lunch time and not wanting to drive at dusk/night, we often are only able to eat out when the “stars align”. Of the restaurant options when we do go out, noticeably lacking is Mexican food restaurants and Hispanic-related food in general. This isn’t too surprising, as we aren’t even remotely close to Mexico or any other Spanish-speaking country, and travelers from those countries tend to drive more than fly. On the other hand, Asian food restaurants more than make up the difference. Plus, instead of a “Chinese” or Asian restaurant consisting of foods from many cultures (like many restaurants in the States), each country’s (e.g. Thai, Sri Lankan, Chinese) food has a separate unique restaurant, sometimes even only specializing in a subset of that food (e.g., dumplings). Quite different from what I am used to, but still quite enjoyable. There are also more of other ethnic foods that we aren’t used to seeing in the Midwest, like Lebanese and Greek. Quite fun.
For cooking ourselves, we have had to adapt a bit. Normally, one meal a week, I like to “splurge” some money and get a pre-prepared meal that I can just throw in the oven or the skillet and be ready in a few minutes. This is just so I don’t actually have to work hard or plan a meal for one night a week; plus it is a chance for Jonathan to have something non-vegetarian. However, there doesn’t seem to really be that option here in Australian stores. You either have a one-person microwave meal or warm-up savory pies (for oven or microwave). So, we have started having the savory pies once week. They come either frozen or refrigerated and we just put them in our largest skillet with the cooktop set to 180F so that they warm to 160F without burning (we normally flip it once or twice just to make it cook more evenly). Works pretty well.
With the induction stovetop’s temperature option, we have been able to do a decent amount of cooking that normally requires an oven. We have cooked several cakes. I have even made biscuits. I learned how to make stovetop apple crisp. I have even made a cobbler (Thanks, Grandma for the cup recipe!). We are trying pizza this week with a premade pizza base from the store. As you can see, not too much suffering over here.
Also, randomly missing from the stores here is corn meal (which is a shame as I really wanted to make cornbread!). Also very hit and miss on whether they have it is whipping cream. They don’t really seem to use it. In its place is thickened (with gelatin) cream (bizarre…). And, the produce section is interesting. With potatoes, some come “unwashed;” perhaps as a way to save labor costs? All produce is pretty much from Australia with a few rare exceptions. But even within Australia, produce can’t cross state lines to prevent the spread of pests and disease. A very strict country in regards to imports and exports.
There is annoying Australian habit of not really telling you what you are consuming. For example, when reading labels, it will say “sweeteners” and “spices”. This frustrates me as I really don’t like the taste of certain items (or just want to avoid stuff) and I won’t know if it has it until I have tasted it, which means buying it first. Similarly, on many cheese items, they don’t list what types of cheese are used. How bizarre/frustrating is that? They do mention Colby and mozzarella, but other than that I am not really sure what the cheese is. I think it is cheddar, but the only description it gives is “tasty” and “very tasty”. How vague is that?! I guess they do indicate its strength from very mild to very strong.
Also, I find the “health star” rating system very entertaining.
As for snacks (a lot are 0.5 health stars ), a lot of our budget is spent on snacks. They are roughly the same cost as in the States, but here, that cost only buys you 1 weeks’ worth of snacks, whereas in the States, it would last 1.5-2 weeks. However, we have picked out several favorites:
- Arnott’s TimTam (Jonathan likes Chocolate, I like White)
- Arnott’s Farmbake cookies (for Jonathan, of course)
- Arnott’s Orange Slice cookies (for me)
- Nestle’s Dairy Milk Berry Crumble (for me; very tasty! Why don’t we have similar in the States?)
The cereals we have gravitated to while traveling are these:
Here are some cereals that are rebranded from the States.
They also have a lot of mango-flavored food here (which I love).