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johung

Real difference between Australian and NZ cuisine?

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Hi all,

This is my first post here and I'm glad to become a new member on this board and interacting with everyone here. My background is a HK Chinese immigrant to New Zealand (formerly Auckland, now rural Canterbury/Christchurch satellite town). If I understand correctly not many NZ-based members are here, so I will help around if I see something I can answer.

But first, a very interesting topic of discussion for all: real difference between New Zealand and Australian food. Most outsiders normally mix NZ's cuisine with that of Australia just like everything else, but we do know differences do exist. For example, NZ has no Mediterranean countries migrant communities like Australia, and therefore there seemed to be a time lag between how popular olive oil became in Australia and across the Tasman.

We are also far more gradual in moving towards Pacific Rim cooking, and I think it was not until 1995 that Auckland and Wellington got on the act. Too many Kiwis still believe these are passing fads and much of the new gourmet cooking does not represent the common people, despite evidence that sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pad thai, butter chicken etc have become as common in many home cooking/entertainment as the good old-fashioned roast.

Does any Australian-based members have any thoughts about this? What do you think differentiates between the food of New Zealand and Australia?

Thanks,

Joel

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There is so much movement between the two countries, particularly in the restaurant and catering area, that it would be really hard to pin down differences between the cuisines.

My suspicion is that a variance in consumer demand would drive any differences in what is eaten. But having travelled extensively through Australia, I suspect there is more difference within Australia than exists between Australia and New Zealand.

I do wish we could get Bluff oysters here in Australia though. :biggrin:


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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There is so much movement between the two countries, particularly in the restaurant and catering area, that it would be really hard to pin down differences between the cuisines.

My suspicion is that a variance in consumer demand would drive any differences in what is eaten. But having travelled extensively through Australia, I suspect there is more difference within Australia than exists between Australia and New Zealand.

I do wish we could get Bluff oysters here in Australia though.  :biggrin:

I have not found a great difference in NZ food to Australian. But I agree the food varies a lot in different regions of Oz but then it is a big place and they both have a lot of English traditional food.

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Thanks people for the answers so far. I assumed Australian cooking is probably less country style and less British legacy, but apparently the difference is probably minimal. Rather, the difference seems to be the level of specialist products available.

Looking from NZ's internal perspectives, Auckland's food scene does seem to be very Pacific Rim even when compared with the rest of the country. From my personal experience, households in Auckland are far less intimidated by using Asian ingredients than those in the South Island.

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One of the big differences between Australia and New Zealand is the produce.

Australian Lamb is entirely different than NZ Lamb. Australian Lamb has more smell and is often leander (not always a good thing). NZ Lamb is more European - the emphasis is on fat and texture.

I prefer the taste of Australian lamb but prefer the texture of NZ lamb.

Seafood is also quite different. Australia's seas are quite poor in fish population considering it's huge coastline (old soils = little nutrients) broadly speaking. The fish species have in plentitude we don't eat much of as it's exported to Asia and US.

The most common fish we eat is often farmed non-indigenous species like Atlantic Salmon!

There are local species of fish in the southern states which are delicious and don't travel well so thankfully we get to enjoy: King George Whiting, Coorong Mullet etc.

As for what separates the cooking - I think nothing except local taste and culture. A great NZ Chef who cooked in Sydney would probably produce similar things as a Sydney chef. The local produce is what determines the style as well as what the punters want to eat.

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I agree that it's more regional than you would expect - a good Christchurch restaurant won't be serving what a good Auckland restaurant serves. I was surprised at how conservative Queensland supermarkets were, considering the climate...at least 20 years ago, people in Brisbane seemed to be eating what people in Christchurch ate, but NOT what people in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, or Wellington were eating!

On the whole, I think that Australian families have gone much more to the "grilled meat and salad" pattern, where NZ (especially outside Auckland) is still much more "meat and hot vegetables".

Travellers complain about boring (time-warp postwar British cooking) roadside food in rural NZ, and that is mostly due to lack of good supplies and lack of contact with different types of food, I think.

Indian, Chinese, and Pacific vegetables are grown in NZ, but I don't see them in supermarkets serving the bleach community, any more than I saw tropical vegetables in Queensland (though tropical fruits were common)...pity, because they offer variety much more affordably than imported European condiments!

I'm curious whether the Mediterranean community has as much impact in Sydney as in Melbourne? And whether Australians notice the slowly growing influence of and interest in Pacific (Samoan, Fijian etc) food that we see in Auckland?

Fish - despite some common varieities, there is a surprisingly big difference in the fish available in the two countries! Currents are quite varied.

P.S. Menus here from Lewinsky's in Darwin, and Flanagan's in Invercargill!

Cuisine.com food/recipe site from Australia, vs. Foodlovers, a smaller-scale NZ site. Lots of similarities...

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