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Cracking Down Under

My Scholarship entry - Understanding a Culture through Food

WORLDWIDE | Sunday, 8 April 2012 | Views [214] | Scholarship Entry

Australia has fast become one of the most popular destinations for holidaymakers far and wide, particularly the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Many tourists arrive to experience the popularized easygoing and hospitable trademark “Aussie” lifestyle. However, many leave trying to pinpoint what exactly defines the Australian culture. After spending four years in Melbourne, I could easily say that learning about the country’s rich and unique heritage is definitely through its highly acclaimed food culture.

Hold on, doesn’t traditional Australian fare consist only of barbequed alligator or kangaroo, meat pasties, Vegemite, Tim Tams and lamingtons? The answer would be a big fat “No”.

Modern Australia is defined by its apparent immigrant community which consists largely of Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Lebanese and Indian ethnicities. With the arrival of these folk, they brought traditions, music, language and cuisine as testaments of their origin. In recent years, it has diversified to include more Asian and South-East Asian foods, largely attributed to the influx and demand of international students.

How confusing! How does such an eclectic array of ethnicities contribute to the “Aussie” culture?

Rather than the existence of a stereotypical monoculture, it is the fragments of distinct ethnic customs that create a unified multi-Australian society. Mouth-watering delights exist in every corner: 24-hour Greek restaurants serving hot moussaka and sweet baklavas; streets of competing Italian pizzerias; dedicated Chinese yum-cha eateries; home-cooked traditional Vietnamese ph? stores; bustling Malaysian hawker-style shops and more. In Australia, faces both foreign and “local” gather to socialize over great food are regular sights.

If you are adamant for a definition on Australian culture then look no further. It is a culture based upon friendship, acceptance, tolerance and a big appetite (pun unintended) for excellent adventures.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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