Meat and three veg? Add a little something exotic please ...
Coming into my 24th year as a Frenchman living in this beautiful country, I have enjoyed immensely witnessing the changing culture – particularly in cookery and even more prominently, in the Australian palate.
I recently read an article published in the Australia Geographic (please see the link below) and thought it was a fabulous insight from an Australian’s point of view, into what I have experienced during my many years of working in this industry.
My family and I regularly eat out. I love nothing more than a traditional French meal however we are always seeking a new culinary experience. Being French and with a South African Indian wife, we also enjoy a melting pot of cooking at home.
When I arrived in this country, the classic Australian cuisine of ‘meat and three veg’ was still very standard – in people’s homes and, although a slightly fancier version, in our top restaurants. People were generally pretty non-experimental.
Industrialisation, immigration, the introduction of new farming methods and the media have over the years opened up the doors to so many new ingredients, cuisines and have merged into the way we educate our chefs. The result is that we can, if we choose, enjoy one of the most varied cuisines in the world.
Today we see fusion everywhere. In the last month I have enjoyed Bangladeshi Street Food in Surry Hills, Iranian in Redfern, Japanese in the Rocks and Spanish Tapas in Glebe. As this article states, even our big supermarket shelves are now catering to our changing palate with isles of more exotic ingredients and other culture’s cuisines.
Even our children are better educated about other cuisines. How many people’s children love sushi as a regular part of their weekly meals? A far cry from the old staple of lamb chops with potato and carrots.
I think the rise of the vegetable has been significant also. Usually served as almost an afterthought, the vegetable is often now the hero of the dish which says a lot for our changing attitudes and lifestyle choices.
We have noticed a significant change with our suppliers also as they start to meet the demand for more traceable food and a better variety of products. Bread is a perfect example – it is the first taste for most diners and we now expect something a little more exotic than a white dinner roll. Bakeries are popping up everywhere and many restaurants bake their own bread creating a variety unique to them.
There are still some, of my parent’s era, who are very stuck in their ways. I recently heard of a customer cooking his 70 year old father some chilli prawns and catching him dunking them in his glass of water to get rid of it. Some tastes you will never change.
Generally however, we all enjoy a much more open and sophisticated palate and are a lot more receptive to trying something new. There is certainly nothing wrong with meat and three veg, I just think its exciting that now most people will add a little Chilli Garlic Masala or Coriander Pesto onto the plate!