No. 13: Beetroot

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Never in my life had I ever seen anyone eat beetroot so often — Not until I came to Australia. Also known as the table beet, red beet, garden beet or just plain beet, this delicious and nutritious veggie has been a staple in Australian kitchens for nearly 50 years.

There are many benefits one can get from eating beetroots. It’s not only a natural detoxifier and blood purifier, but it is also an excellent source of iron. Beetroots are also an antioxidant and are rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins such as vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6 {source}.

Beetroot is often pickled and packaged in tin cans, sold more typically in this fashion in Australia, but the variety of ways that it is served in Australia is quite noticeable:

Dip: Beetroot dip is often found among the other dips at the supermarket. You’ll be safe to bring it with you if asked to bring any dips to a party because nearly everyone here loves it.
◌ Salad topping: Often I’ve seen it included in the ingredients of a variety of homemade garden salads here in Oz. Click here to see a few ways it’s used in recipes.
Roasted: Aussies seem to love roasted vegetables, especially potatoes. A few times I’ve had roasted beetroots served to me with horseradish and sour cream {similar recipe here}.
Risotto: Served with a chicory salad to balance sweetness, this is a very healthy and delicious comfort food.
Sandwiches: Good on a sandwich and great on an Aussie hamburger, which the Aussies call “the lot” — All about that here.

Do Aussies really love beetroots?
Yes. Check out this link, this linkthis link and this link to see the proof!

Does McDonald’s in Australia serve a burger with beetroot?
Every so often “Maccas” sells the “McOz” — As I write this, they are selling them again… I’ve never tried one because I’m not a fan of fast food places like McDonald’s, but here is a commercial with the burger:

I am in Australia and really would just like to try pickled beetroots. Where should I look?
The supermarket. One popular brand of pickled beetroots Down Under is Golden Circle, and with a selection of whole, diced, sliced and wedged beetroots you’ll be able to easily open a can and plop some into a dish.

Do you like beetroots?
I do, yes — Especially beetroot dip. But I’ve always like beets, so it took no adjusting for me… What about you? What do you think of beetroots?

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Beetroot dip!

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"The Lot"

Aussies also have their own version of a hamburger. This was introduced to me here immediately, as I am an American and everybody in the world seems to associate hamburgers and cheeseburgers automatically with Americans. This hamburger with “the lot” was shared with me as if it were meant to impress me… And it did. It was delicious, filling and almost impossible to eat without drooling at the first sight of it.

The burger with “the lot” in Australia is typically available at pubs, restaurants and take-away shops [or fish and chip shops] throughout Oz. The toppings between the buns are usually:

· Beef patty
· Cheese
· Grilled onion
· Beetroot
· Pineapple slice
· Fried egg [with soft yolk]
· Bacon
· Tomato slice
· Lettuce
· Pickle
· Tomato sauce [or barbecue sauce]
· Optional mayo and/or mustard

Who’s got the best “lot burger” Down Under?

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Burger with "The Lot"

You can be the judge yourself, or you can rely on word-of-mouth… Or a Google search, such as the results of Queenslander Sean Muir’s search for the “ultimate lot burger”, as seen here.

What’s served with Australia’s take on its American counterpart?

Chips [fries], which are often seasoned with chicken salt. It all depends on your taste. You might also find burgers served with one of a variety of salads, such as potato salad, macaroni salad, or a vegetable salad [“dinner salad”].

Do Australians call hamburger meat at the supermarket “ground beef”, like what it’s called in American supermarkets?

No, they refer to it more commonly as “mince”.

Do Australians like to cook hamburgers on the grill [“barby”]?

Yes. Click here to read more.

Why do Aussies add things such as fried egg, beetroot and pineapple to their burger?

I’m not sure why. I’ve asked around and a few responses from Aussies were that pineapple possibly adds the flavor flavour of summer, and the toppings seem to speak for the individual taste of Australians [who really seem to love beetroots, by the way]. You can read more about the Australian hamburger here.

No. 11: Surfing

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Surf's up!

Australians are prone to be drawn to the shores one way or another because their country is surrounded on all sides by water. Roughly eighty percent of Australians live within 80 miles of the sea and 50 percent of the country’s houses sit less than 8 miles from a beach {source}, so you will certainly find beach culture in the land of Oz, and the choice of which beach to visit is simple — In the Sydney-area alone, there are over 50 beaches {click here to see a list of them all}. Aussies enjoy the beach in many ways and one such way is surfing.

Do I surf?
Not really, but I will try to take advantage of it this summer.

Do all Aussies surf?
No, but I’m personally surrounded by the surfing culture here Down Under, so I’m surprised I didn’t add this to the list much sooner. It’s always on my mind — Even as I drove recently through Narrabeen, the Beach Boys song “Surfing U.S.A.” came to mind:

You’d catch ’em surfin’ at Del Mar
Ventura County line
Santa Cruz and Trestle
Australia’s Narrabeen
All over Manhattan
And down Doheny Way
Everybody’s gone surfin’
Surfin’ U.S.A.

Do Aussie surfers have a slang?
Yes. Along with the Shaka sign they might sign at each other, you also might hear them say some of these international terms, but Aussies have a few of their own terms as well:
· Aggro = Aggression  {“A lot of aggro in the water today…”}.
· Boardies = Boardshorts.
· Blow in = Out of town surfer.
· Leggie = The urethane band (or rope) that attaches your board to your ankle.
· Rashie = Rash guard.
· Rippin’ = Surfing really well.
· Steamer = A full wetsuit with long arms and long legs.
You can find a complete list here.

How can I learn to surf?
Some beaches offer surfing lessons.  In Manly, in the Sydney-area, there is one that I know of for kids and adults {click here}.  Otherwise, you can learn all around the world.  Click here for more info.

I’ve heard about fake reefs — What are those?
Yes, artificial reefs have been created for surfing.  Click here to learn more about this.

Which beaches are the most famous to surf in Australia?
There are so many, such as Bells Beach in Victoria.  I found a good website with more information about the best surfing locations here.

Who are the most famous Aussie surfers today?
There are many.  Here are a few —
Mick Fanning.
Taj Burrow.
Stephanie Gilmore.
Sally Fitzgibbons.
More here.

What time of day is the best time to surf?
It depends.  In Australia, there is a handy website set up for surfers on Coastalwatch  — There are even iPhone apps available for surfers to check the swell forecast while on the go.

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Surfers at Burleigh Heads in Queensland

What about surf gear?
Shortboards, longboards, wet suits, rash guards, surf wax… The list goes on and on!  Click here to learn more.

Do Aussie surfers ever become hostile?
They can. Sometimes locals can be territorial about where they surf, so this is something to keep in mind. If you’ve come in from out of town and they know it, you might come across some hostility, aka surf rage. Best to know the surf etiquette! This should also apply to boogie/body boarders {who surfers here call “boogers” and “spongers”}. Share the water.

Are there surf-gangs in Australia?
Yes. One famous surf-gang in Australia is from Maroubra, and they are the Bra Boys. Click here to learn more about them. I suggest you also watch Bra Boys: Blood is Thicker than Water, a documentary written and directed by members of the gang, narrated by actor Russell Crowe {he’s originally from New Zealand, by the way}.

Last but not least — Wear sunblock!
As I learned just a week ago… I was on Whale Beach in the sun for less than 40 minutes {without sunblock — doh! Never again!}, the Australian sun is not very forgiving. The highest skin cancer rate in the world? Australia. Check out this link for more info.

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Bacon & Egg Roll

Within my first week in Australia, I was introduced to the bacon and egg roll for breakfast brekkie. Had I ever tried a bacon and egg roll in my life before coming Australia? Yes, possibly, but most likely not the way that it’s done Down Under.

More than just a cure for a hangover, the bacon and egg roll seems to me to be one of Australia’s favorite favourite choices in the a.m.

Aussies like to eat their bacon & egg roll topped with:
· Tomato sauce
· Barbecue sauce
· Cheese
· Fresh tomato slices or roasted tomato
· Or whatever you wish!

It’s simply just a few rashers of bacon and an egg cooked over easy, served in a bread roll. The best bacon and egg roll I’ve eaten here {so far} came from the Salty Rooster in Manly. The bread was just the right size and lightly toasted, and the bacon was perfect-o.

What seems to make a good bacon & egg roll?
It depends on taste.  I judge each by the bread/roll — I’ve had overly toasted bread, rolls that were too hard and/or too big, and I want for the egg to be at least slightly runny. I also judge each by the quality of the bacon — Is the bacon mostly fat, too greasy or comes out of the roll in one bite? I consider this to be not worth the effort of my shrugging off my diet for one morning…

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A bacon & egg roll at the Scarborough Hotel

Curious to try one too?
There are many cafés and takeaway places in Oz where you will find the bacon and egg roll on the menu.  In the vicinity of Sydney alone, I’ve probably eaten already more than a dozen at random places.

Here are some of the places {with my 5-star rating of each} where I’ve tried the bacon & egg roll:

· Ocean View Sandwich Bar, Dee Why ★★★
· Salty Rooster, Manly ★★★★
· Scarborough Hotel, Scarborough ★★★
· Zimzala, Cronulla ★★★★
· And, of course, McDonald’sMaccas” ★★

Each ★ is for quality of the bacon, the roll, the service and the overall taste.

Note: Some takeaway locations will charge you around 50¢ for each tomato sauce packet. Also several locations of McDonald’s has put barbecue sauce on my bacon and egg roll without asking me first. Not a nice surprise at 6 a.m. for the untrained bacon and egg roll eater…

Feel free to share here all about your thoughts on the perfect bacon and egg roll, as well as your favorite favourite bacon and egg roll experience Down Under!

No. 9: Tim Tams

Things Aussies Like


Arnott’s Tim Tams are definitely a favorite favourite in Australia, with one in every two households containing a packet of these cookies biscuits. In other words, if you visit an Aussie in their home and they serve you tea, mention the Tim Tam and there’s a 50% chance you’ll get one on the spot… That is, unless they’re greedy about their Tim Tams, in which case you will just have to buy some for yourself at the local Coles or Woolworths {“Woolies”}.

Coated in chocolate, Tim Tams are two layers of malted chocolate biscuit, filled with a creamy chocolate filling.

A few varieties available in Australia:

· Tim Tam Original
Tim Tam Classic Dark
Tim Tam Chewy Caramel
Tim Tam White
Tim Tam Double Coat

They are found outside of Australia nowadays in countries like Canada, the United States and a few other nations, but Tim Tams originally began in Australia in 1964. According to Wikipedia:

“They were named by Ross Arnott, who attended the 1958 Kentucky Derby and decided that the name of the winning horse Tim Tam was perfect for a planned new line of biscuits. The new biscuit was based on the existing New Zealand Penguin biscuit.”

Aussies seem to love pushing the addictive treats on others as well! Hugh Jackman once visited Oprah with Nicole Kidman to promote the Baz Luhrmann movie “Australia,” and Hugh made sure to sneak some of the irresistible treats over to Oprah {read more here}.

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Prepping the Tim Tam...

Tim Tam Slam:

Whether you call it the Tim Tam Straw, the Tim Tam Bomb or the Tim Tam Explosion, you’ve got to try this!

Within 3 months of being in Australia, my friend Evan showed me how to do the Tim Tam Slam because it is, after all, some rite of passage here Down Under.

With a hot beverage, such as a cup of coffee or, as many Aussies have suggested to me, Milo, what you do is take your Tim Tam cookie biscuit and bite off at both ends diagonally, like seen in the photos here on the right.

Now, using the Tim Tam like a straw in your hot beverage, sip through the top half of the Tim Tam and then, once the biscuit is saturated, quickly turn it upside down and eat it. It will melt in your mouth!

Here’s a great video showing how it’s done:

And watch Natalie Imbruglia show Graham Norton how it’s done:

And, just in case you need more, here is a great article for beginners on how to do the Tim Tam Slam.

No. 8: Thongs

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No, not thong underwear. We’re talking about flip-flops or jandals.

Aussies love to wear thongs and have for over 50 years. According to Wikipedia:

“Thongs became popular in Australia after being worn by the Australian Olympic swimming team at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956.”

Even during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony, Kylie Minogue rode to the stage on a giant thong

When they aren’t going barefoot, I’ve seen Aussies wearing thongs everywhere Down Under, and this is possibly because roughly 80% of the population lives within 50 km {approximately 30 miles} of the beach. And keep in mind that you can get away with wearing thongs almost anywhere down here.

Single or double pluggers?
According to Urban Dictionary:

“The highest standard of thongs, these have two plugs though the sole on each side.  If the pair has only one plug through the sole, then they’re only good for showers.  With two plugs you can wear them out to dinner, to the pub, a wedding, a funeral…”

Seasonal attire?
Some Aussies would probably wear them all year, if they could. Even on one cold winter day in Sydney, which was about 10°C {that’s 50°F}, I saw a woman on the train who was wearing a pair of thongs. However you’ll more likely to see thongs worn in the Sydney-area from September through April at the beach and around town.

The brands:
· Havaianas
· Cobian
· Quiksilver/Roxy
· Crocs

There are more, but the most popular brand of thongs seem to be Havaianas.

Aussie Flag Thong

Aussie Thong Inflatable Pool Floaty-thingy

What do I think?
At first, it was tough for me to say “thongs.” I kept thinking of the “Thong Song” by Sisqo… I’m over that now.

I now own 3 pairs of thongs, which is also the total amount of pairs I’d owned in my entire life before coming to Australia, plus I have 2 pairs of terry cloth terry towelling thongs for around the house. I don’t like to wear thongs everyday because it’s bad for the feet, but I certainly have adopted them into my wardrobe. The pairs I own range from laid-back, just plain black or brown, to dressy, bedazzled with embellishments.

I believe I’m starting to fit in Down Under…

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Within the first day 12 hours of being in Sydney, I was introduced to meat pies by an Australian. It was outside of the hotel I stayed in {Blue at Woolloomooloo — Say that 10 times, fast}, my very first night in Australia, at a Harry’s Cafe de Wheels stand, one of many locations found in the Sydney-area.  Upon approach, I was told all about meat pies and how Harry’s was a classic with such fervor fervour.  I noted it.

What is a meat pie?
A meat pie is hand-sized and filled with diced or minced meat and gravy, sometimes also onions, mushrooms, etc {more here}.

There are many varieties to choose from, as well as a number of vegetarian-options. I remember these also being available in America in the frozen food-section of the supermarket, known as “pot pies.”

Where are meat pies sold?
Meat pies are sold all over Australia, but here are a few places around Sydney where you’ll easily find them:

· Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
· Robertson Pie Shop
· Pie Face
· Pie in the Sky
· Convenience stores and “servos” {Aussie for “service station”}
· Pubs
· Outdoor kiosks/stands — Some sell Mrs. Mac’s pies.
· Sports arenas

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Pie and Can — Outside of a store near Austinmer Beach in NSW

Many of the places which sell meat pies might want for you to know that they have been somehow at some time rated best meat pie — There even is an annual “Official Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition” — Somehow it matters, but it doesn’t mean their meat pie tastes any good today. Word of mouth has told me that Harry’s, Robertson, Upper Crust and another called Hamlet’s sell the best…

Many of the Aussies I know call a meat pie with tomato sauce “dog’s eye and dead horse.”  It’s part of their “rhyming slang,” which you can read more about here.

How to eat a meat pie dog’s eye and dead horse:
Either top the meat pie with tomato sauce or smother each bite with tomato sauce.  It’s an on-the-go type of food, so it’s available takeaway and usually easy to eat while sitting on the train or ferry.  You can also order it with mash {Aussie for “mashed potatoes”}, {mushy} peas and/or gravy and eat it with a fork and knife.

Best and worst meat pies I’ve ever eaten:
I had one from Harry’s which was good, called a “tiger.” It is served with mash, mushy peas and gravy. Pie Face, on two separate attempts, was the worst.  I just suggest you try them all so you can judge for yourself.  My next pie will be from Cronulla Pie Shop.

Do Aussies really love meat pies?
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Be sure to mention it the next time you meet an Australian and most likely their eyes will light up. If they’re abroad, it might even make them homesick.

Here’s some more proof of how much Aussies love meat pies:

Remember — They love “football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.”

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