Toxic Custard Workshop FilesGuide to Australia

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Food (and drink!)

what is the legal drinking age? - Rusty, location unknown

Legal drinking age around the world

Moderate drinking guidelines

Ah, a nice quick question to answer. No need to mess about hunting down answers on this one.

Of course, I'm always left wondering why people want to know this. Is it because they're a youngster planning on coming for a holiday and want to know if they go into a pub will they get arrested and deported/banged up in a cell with only a mouldy thin mattress, a toilet with no seat and a new friend called Big Tony/Toni for company?

Or perhaps they live somewhere where the demon drink is out out of reach legally, and they're hoping to emigrate just so they can have a beer in peace?

It doesn't matter. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18. Which is also when you can smoke cigarettes and vote. But I wouldn't recommend doing all three at the same time.

What are the rules of "shouting drinks"? - Anonymous, Australia

If you drink, then drive, you're a bloody idiot.

The rules of shouting drinks are pretty simple, and go something like this.
  • Group of people arrives in pub
  • Person 1 asks what everybody wants to drink, compiles order, buys drinks, brings them back. Everybody drinks.
  • Person 2 asks what everybody wants to drink, compiles order, buys drinks, brings them back. Everybody drinks.
  • Person 3 asks what everybody wants to drink, compiles order, buys drinks, brings them back. Everybody drinks.

I think you can probably work out the pattern here. This is pretty much how it goes, until everybody has bought everybody else a drink (or at least offered) and then you can start again, presuming everybody is still capable of speech. (I only mention this because after all, we don't want to encourage irresponsible conshumption of alcoshol, do we? Nopppppe.)

If someone is getting a round and you haven't finished your drink, then you're obviously some kind of wimp, but you can elect to skip to the next round. But the most critical thing to remember is that it is extremely bad etiquette to happen to leave just before it's your round. If this occurs then the others in your party are quite within their rights to do terrible things to you with a dead chicken, or anything else they might happen to have handy.

The other rule to keep in mind is that if you happen to see me in a pub, you should buy me a drink. This applies even if I am not in your group of people. 

The other way of shouting drinks is to shout the whole bar a drink. This is generally only done by those who are (a) celebrating obtaining a huge amount of money, (b) are too drunk or stupid to know better, or (c) are in an empty bar.

Is Marmite available in Australia? I've been told it is, but no one can tell me a shop in Sydney in which it is sold. I have to rely on (unreliable) friends importing it from the UK and recently (horror) - Vegemite. - Neil, probably UK
Marmite.com

Sanitarium (Australian Marmite manufacturer)

Marmite most certainly is available in Australia. I know this to be true, because I went on a fact-finding mission to the local supermarket. (I also needed some groceries). Nestled among the various spreads, dominated by lots and lots of Vegemite (and clones) jars of various sizes, were some jars of Marmite. A local brand, but certainly Marmite.

My research didn't go as far as actually buying a jar (what, are you crazy? That's just poor Poms' Vegemite!) or noting the price, but it was definitely there. While undeniably, my local supermarket is not in Sydney, this should tell you that at the very least, some supermarkets carry it.

Coles Online also have it in stock (250 gram jar for $2.46 - though I'd love to know how they work that out to be $1.97 per 100 grams). Woolworths HomeShop has it for $2.45.

The catch? My spies tell me it tastes different to British Marmite. D'oh!

So if you're fussy and have to have the original British brand, that may be a bit trickier. You can generally find a range of imported foods at boutique grocery departments of major department stores (David Jones Foodhall for example). It may be worth trying the local version first, to at least try and avoid the premium price the imported ones invariably attract.

On my first trip to Australia we went to Hungry Jacks for an Australian Burger. I have told many people about this odd combination of burger, fried egg, bacon (ham) and beetroot and, despite their skeptcism, would like to show them how delicious it actually was. Am I forgetting any key ingredients? - Jennifer, Illinois, USA

Hungry Jacks

That's pretty much it, although I'd add some onion, a little pathetic piece of soggy lettuce (so those silly enough to believe that a little piece of soggy lettuce will make all the difference between keeling over with a heart attack and eating a healthy nutritious meal), and maybe a slice of tomato, or perhaps some tomato sauce instead.

Of course I feel obligated to point out that a Hungry Jacks (Burger King) burger, while light years ahead of the McDonalds variety, is not in the same league as the "real" burgers obtained from your average suburban fish and chips shop.

What's the fat content of a Cadbury Cherry Ripe? It appears to be a national secret. I eat them thinking they are better than other chockies, but if not I'm going straight for the ones without fruit! - Anonymous, location unknown

Cadbury Australia

Now let's get this straight: It's a chocolate bar. Chocolate bars are not known for their low fat content. Not even the ones with fruit in them I'm afraid. Don't get me wrong, I love Cadbury. I have half a dozen different bars in my fridge. But they're not a diet food.

The new one I love is Viking, the one with guarana in it, which unlike the similarly named guano, is a natural source of caffeine. I don't drink coffee, so I have to look for alternative sources of caffeine sometimes. I love the way they've hidden the small print under the flap of the wrapper. It reads in part: this product is not recommended for children under 15 years, diabetics, pregnant women, nursing mothers of persons sensitive to caffeine... Recommended daily dose (dose!) of up to 3 bars per day.

And I tell you what, the taste may be nothing remarkable, but it certainly gives the system a bit of a kick. Ideal for that mid afternoon lull, when sleep seems as easy as work.

As for answering your question, well I'm afraid that of all the various Cadbury bars in my fridge, a Cherry Ripe isn't among them. However, the Cadbury web site has some nutrition information, and it seems to indicate that in 100 grams of dark chocolate, there's 31 grams of fat, and 2100 kilojoules.

Even accounting for the fact that a standard Cherry Ripe bar is closer to 55 grams, and maybe half of it is actual chocolate, there's still probably a fair whack of fat in it. And if you want to know exactly? Well it turns out that most Cadbury bars in Australia don't have all the information on the packet. You may just have ask them yourself.

Do you have boiled peanuts in Sydney? Or anywhere else? And if not, is it possible to obtain raw peanuts? I'm moving to Sydney soon from the southern US and I would really really miss boiled peanuts. Thanks. PS I know you are going to tease me so go ahead and get it over with! - Heather, USA
Links:

Boiled peanuts recipe

Making fun of you? What kind of despicable nasty web page do you think this is? Let's make this quite clear: I do not make fun of the people who write in here. Well, not in public. Well okay, not very much. At least, not if they don't ask me if there's a McDonalds on top of Uluru.

Peanuts are available at just about every supermarket in the country. I'm not sure about boiled peanuts; you might have to do this yourself.

I read that the drinking ages very w/in the different provinces...one said 20...other 18. - beef
Links:

Australian Beer web site

Australian Electoral Commission

I think you must be thinking of some other country. We don't have provinces. We have cities, shires, states and territories, but no provinces. The drinking age is 18. Along with the voting age.

So for you Australians reading: if the Electoral Commission people object to you being drunk when you turn up to vote, just tell them it's your right as an Australian citizen.

I've a mate who's just got back from Australia. While there he visited your big rock & insists that there's a McDonalds on top of it! Please tell me he's yankin' my chain. - Anonymous, Netherlands
Links:

Maccas Australia 

Click for enlargementAs ghastly as it may sound, yes, I'm afraid there now is a McDonald's on top of Uluru. (Click on picture for enlargement).

You can even get a McOz - the (probably unique) Australian burger with beetroot on it. Also available are the McRooBurger and the McWitchety-Grub.

Can you please explain the word pollywaffle?? Thanks. - Ron
Links:

Nestle gets naughty

A Polly Waffle is a chocolate bar made by Nestle. It's been a while since I've tasted one, but apart from the obvious waffle, it also includes marshmallow and various other sweet gooey and/or crunchie stuff.

But the term is also slang for gibberish, as in spoken, written, or posted onto a web site like this one. Presumably the origin is the word "waffle".

I am interested in finding out if you have ever had a candy bar called a violet crumble? I believe they come from your wonderful nation, Australia. Every time I eat one, I got to heaven. these are the honeycomb bars coated with chocolate.....I was also wondering if these are popular down there or just the stuff you export to America...like Fosters lager? - David Eisenbud, USA
Links:

Nestle Violet Crumble

Cadbury Crunchie

Baby Food Action Group

Baby Milk Action.org

Yes, I have had a Violet Crumble, though it's been a few years, because like quite a few people I have boycotted Nestle products for some time because of their very nasty marketing of infant formula to third world countries.

Nestle, of course, claim in that "we're a huge multinational but we're really nice, no really, honestly" way of theirs that it never happened. Numerous groups appear to disagree with them.

Fortunately, there is another chocolate and honeycomb product that is just as delicious: Cadbury's Crunchie. And yes, both are very popular in Australia - unlike Foster's Lager.

I am going to visit Australia for the first time this April. I am being accompanied by my in-laws & father-in-law is fearful that he will not be able to find SKIPPY peanut butter in Australia. I know that areas like Queensland produce more than 50,000 metric tons of peanuts / year, but do they produce PEANUT BUTTER ? - Nic, probably USA
Links:

Skippy Peanut Butter

Dick Smith Peanut Butter

An overseas holiday with your in-laws? What foul deeds did you perform in your previous lives to deserve that?

Rest assured, Skippy Peanut Butter is on the supermarket shelves here; I saw it the other day. I notice it's a division of Best Foods. Harumph. Does that mean it's as Australian as that Aussie Mega Shampoo stuff?

Queensland peanuts are certainly used in some brands of peanut butter, for instance Kraft, who have felt the need to place a whacking great label on the lid proclaiming this. But if you really want Australian made and Australian owned peanut butter, look for Dick Smith's.

I have heard of a technique called "shotgunning a TimTam" could you explain how this is done? - Di, UK

This article has been updated, with video - see
www.toxiccustard.com/australia/tim-tam-slam/

I have a friend who is studying in Austrialia and he's leading quite a tough life as he brought limited cash along with him. Therefore, I intend to send him some foodstuff, but according to my friends, the customs of Austrialia is quite strict about food that are sent in. So my question is what kind of food can I send to him? - Anonymous, Singapore
Links:

Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service

Yes, Australia has strict laws on all types of organic matter than can be imported, including food. This is to try and keep hideous revolting diseases (as well as diseases that aren't hideous and revolting) from elsewhere in the world damaging local plant and animal life.

In general, you should be fine sending most processed food, though some restrictions apply - the Quarantine Service has details.

But I can't help feeling that you would get much better value for money by just sending him money. Even if you just send a personal cheque (which should cost around $5 to cash at his end) you'd be saving a heap on postage and packing. On the other hand, it would lack the personal touch.

I'm a Yank who loves Australia. I usually bring back a goodies box, filled with lollies, and have some sort of stupid contest to award it to some Aussie friends. What are the names of some lollies that are popular, please? - Dirk, USA
Links:

Arnott's

Cadbury Australia

Nestle Australia

Aussie Catalog (US)

Australian Products Company

 

It's very public spirited of you to re-unite some poor Aussies lost in America with treats from home. Either that or you like to see them grovel.


The most securely guarded part of my home. The place where no visitor is permitted to go: My choccy stash.

Some suggestions in the lolly, sweet or biscuit department for things you could take back are:

  • Arnott's Tim Tams - got to be number one on the list, it's quite definitely the food of the Gods. Not just a chocolate, not just a biscuit, but a drink straw as well if you know how to use it! They have various varieties, but the original is still the best. 
  • Cadbury Crunchie and/or Nestle Violet Crumble - both more or less the same, though some would prefer the latter. Honeycomb and chocolate, you can't beat it.
  • Allen's Jaffas. Round, chocolate and orange. And small enough to share with your friends, if you're not too greedy. What more could you ask for?
  • I know I'd miss Big M flavoured milk, but unfortunately you probably won't get it back Stateside still in a drinkable condition (there is a UHT version, but it's pretty revolting). Great flavours including chocolate, strawberry, banana, iced-coffee, and various others from time to time including jaffa, honeycomb. Cue "When The River Runs Dry"...
  • Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate - try this and you'd never want to go back to Hersheys
  • Musk flavoured Life Savers - you might get a mixed reaction on these... people either love them or hate them.

Reader suggestions have included:

  • Cadbury's Cherry Ripe (also known by people in Melbourne as "Richmond Station") - a mix of cherries, coconut and dark chocolate. Rumoured to be used as a form of currency among some expatriate Australians
  • Peppermint Crisp
  • Aero (spearmint or chocolate) - it's the bubbles of nothing that make it really something...
  • Milo and/or Milo bar
  • Iced vo-vo's - the classic Aussie biscuit - who could beat that pink icing with coconut and jam?
  • Fruit tingles
  • Samboy chips - salt'n'vinegar, barbecue, chicken, cheese and onion flavours etc
  • Caramello Koala - your only chance to bite the head off a koala
  • Schweppes Lemonade - some would say the best tasting lemonade around
  • Nutella - may not be Australian but you've gotta love it. On sandwiches or just eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon, it's so versatile!
  • Alpen Blend drinking chocolate - possibly the most divine rich chocolate drink around
  • Twisties - chicken or cheese flavoured. Delicious but messy on the hands, and thoroughly unhealthy
  • Fantales - read the trivia while you eat it
  • Nestle Pollywaffle or a Cadbury Picnic - a whole mishmash of tastes and textures in one chocolate bar
  • Chocolate Royals
  • Allen's Minties
  • Bullets - chocolate and liquorice - what a combination!
  • Burger Rings
  • Arnott's Mint Slice
  • Liquorice from Darrell Lea's (or anything else from Darrell Lea's come to think of it)
  • Allen's Kool Mints
  • Cheezels - a cheesy flavoured round snack
  • Clinkers
  • Shapes - flavoured snack biscuits - BBQ or Pizza flavour
  • and of course, who could forget Wagon Wheels. In France, they eat snails, because they don't have Wagon Wheels... Honest truth: My ex-wife once missed a train just so she could get Wagon Wheels from the vending machine at Newport Station.

Some of the above are available outside Australia: at some Sainsbury's and Tesco supermarkets in the UK, at the Australia Shop in London, and from Aussie Catalog in the US.

Is there anywhere in Oz that exports really important items to the UK? (ie. Tim Tams, Kingston Biscuits, BBQ in a Biskit, Arnotts Shapes etc?) - Sarah, UK
Links:

Arnotts

Aussies and Kiwis in Cambridge FAQ

Aussie Catalog (US)

Why a Tim Tam is better than a man

To be quite honest, life without Tim Tams just doesn't bear thinking about. Okay, so maybe you don't want to eat them every day, but it's important to know that you can run down to the shops and get them when you want them.

The Aussies And Kiwis In Cambridge FAQ says that McVities Penguin Biscuits are a poor substitute for Tim Tams, but they might be worth a try, if only to prove to yourself how superior genuine Tim Tams are.

Increasingly in Australia, you can find imported foods from all over the planet in the bigger department stores and specialist shops. Perhaps your best bet is to look around for shops like this in your area. Or plead with your mum to send you some!

(Can anyone in the UK give Sarah any help on this? If so, please let me know.)

  • Frank Randall reports that Tim Tams are available at Tesco Supermarket in Colney Hatch Lane, North London
  • Rebecca Brockett reports that you "can buy all the items listed, and more, at the Blue Bird supermarket at the bottom of the Kings Rd in Chelsea"
  • Tracey reports "Tim Tams in the UK! Many of the Sainsbury's supermarkets sell them but unfortunately not the double dipped ones. The Australia Shop in Covent Garden (Henrietta Street) sells Tim Tams (all varieties), violet crumbles, twisties, BBQ shapes etc. Prepare to gorge!"
  • Allison Bean reports that many Australian beers are available in London at Beershop, 14B Pitfield Street, London N1. "Besides the cliche Aussie brands, Carlton Cold, VB, Fosters and XXXX you can buy Coopers Pale Ale and Coopers Sparkling Ale (the best South Aussie beer)"
  • Those of you in North America might try http://www.aussiecatalog.com/ 
How's the drinking water in Melbourne? And what about food prices & brands? Can you give me any information about baby formula brands and prices? - Michelle, USA
Links:

Melbourne Water

The quality of drinking water in Melbourne is superb. It would difficult to find such marvellously pure H2O in any tap anywhere else in the world. In fact, legend has it that Melbourne tap water is actually bottled by enterprising water merchants and sold overseas. Maybe somebody reading this from a far away continent can confirm that this is actually true.

Note that drinking water in other cities is of varying quality. The water in Adelaide in particular has a reputation for being pretty dire. Somehow I doubt that gets bottled and sold elsewhere.

Several popular brands of baby formula are available in supermarkets here, though I can't really give you any more details at present because (a) my kids were both breastfed, and (b) I freely admit that I've done absolutely no research into this question. All I remember is seeing the big tins on the shelf when I was looking for nappies and wipes and the like.

I've been to the Outback Steakhouse and I'm wondering this: Do you guys REALLY put pepper on your fries? - Amber Stevens, USA
Links:

Outback Steakhouse

Nope.

Salt, yes, vinegar, yes, pepper - no.

Heck, we don't even call them fries, except at McDonalds and Hungry Jacks (the local version of Burger King). Everywhere else they're chips.

My son is doing a section on Austrialia in his world culture class. We have to bring a bread that is tradional to Austraila. Do you have a recipe you could share with us? - Laura, USA
Links:

A more traditional damper recipe

A version with beer

Damper is a good one to try. It's a very simple recipe, so simple even I could cook it (well, on a good day). It started off as something the bushmen used to cook, somewhere in the outback where they had little more than a fire and the most basic of ingredients.

The following damper recipe breaks away a little from the traditional version, which was pretty much confined to being flour, water and salt. But what you lose in the tradition, you gain on the taste.

3 cups self-raising flour
1-2 teaspoons of salt
90 grams (3.2 oz) of butter, melted
half a cup of water
half a cup of milk
more milk, for glazing
more flour, for dusting
extra butter for serving
golden syrup (or honey if you prefer)

Rev up the oven to 210°C (for you imperial people that's 410°F). Brush an oven tray with melted butter or oil (cooking oil that is, not Castrol GTX). Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the middle. If you've got time, pause for a quick singalong of "Jack And Jill".

Stir up the butter, water and milk, and add to the flour. Stir it with a knife until just combined.

Throw it out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead it for 20 seconds (that's 20.5 seconds imperial) or until it's smooth. Then plonk it into a tray and use your sculpture skills to make into a round shape about 20 centimetres (about 7.874 inches, stop me if I'm getting too precise) across.

Using a sharp pointed knife (Stanley knife not recommended) score it into 8 sections (8), about 1 centimetre deep (0.39 inches). Brush it with milk and dust it with flour, then throw it in the oven for 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 180°C (356°F) and continue to bake for about 15 minutes or until it's golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Serve with loads of butter and/or syrup and/or honey. Even cream and jam is nice too.

I've been living in the US for a month now and am suffering XXXX withdrawl. You mentioned that Outback Steakhouse has it but when I went there the server thought I was asking for a pack of condoms called "Fourex". Know anywhere else on the East coast I can find it? - Thank you - beershine, probably USA
Links:

Outback Steakhouse

XXXX (Lion Nathan)

Coors (not much there)

Anywhere on the east coast? Sure, just about anywhere. Oh, wait - you mean the American east coast. Well now, that could be a little bit trickier.

I certainly remember seeing it at the Outback Steakhouse in Phoenix, Arizona in 1996. But they don't appear to list XXXX on the list of prestigious beers served on their web site (I don't mean they serve beers on their web site, I mean the list is on their web site).

If you asked the server (and when I read this at first, I thought you meant web server, not waiter/waitress) for a XXXX, and they thought you meant condoms, I'm surprised they didn't slap you and get you kicked out!

A little digging has found that a Coors USA subsidiary by the name of Unibev, based in Colorado brews, or at least, used to brew XXXX under licence. It may also go under the name Castlemaine XXXX Export Lager. I'd try asking around your local bottle shops (or whatever they're called in your area), or call Coors if you don't have any luck.

Otherwise, start saving for a plane ticket!

I am from Seattle, where coffee and coffee related drinks are very popular. I don't drink alot of alchohol, when i do I drink wine. This is a question in two parts: Is wine a popular beverage in Australia? Is coffee and coffee related drinks popular down there? Do you have places that sell mochas and Cappuccinos, for instance? - David, Seattle, USA
  Actually, isn't that three parts of your question?

But to answer all of the parts (however many there might be): Yes, wine is very popular, and Australian vineyards in South Australia and Victoria do a roaring trade in the grape-squishing industry, and as well as keeping the locals' thirst quenched, export wine to many parts of the world.

As far as coffee goes, I'm not a fan myself, but (at least in Melbourne) all kinds of variations on the coffee theme are extremely popular. In virtually any town or suburb you can find a semi-decent cup of coffee, and if you look around a bit you'll certainly find quite a few places where you can obtain a truly superb coffee, done just about any way you'd care to mention, with the possible exception of coffee fried on toast with slices of elephant.

My daughter needs a recipe for a dish specific to Australia--she's only 12, so please suggest one that doesn't contain beer. - Lorna
Links:

Safeway/Woolworths: Meat recipes

In my travels - and I'll admit they haven't been extensive - I have never encountered anything quite like the Sausage Sizzle. The Sausage Sizzle is an event found all over rural and suburban Australia, often organised by scouts or volunteer firefighters for fundraising.

The recipe for a Sausage Sizzle is so simple even I could manage it, and the result - a "sausage" - is surprisingly delicious. Here's what you do:

  1. Get a packet of sausages, and a loaf of bread. (White seems to taste better). You'll also need a bottle of tomato sauce or ketchup. Optional are mustard and onions.
  2. Barbecue the sausages. Or grill them. Or fry them. Or whatever you do with them. Just cook them. Make sure they're well done, so you can see some BLACK! Also slice and cook the onions.
  3. Fold each piece of bread diagonally, and place a sausage in each. Cover in sauce, mustard, onions, whatever you want!
  4. Eat it. Or charge other people a dollar to eat it. Easy.
While watching the footy, I saw a placard in the MCG that read Drink Drive Bloody Idiot. I am assuming that driving after having a slab or two is not legal in Australia. - Mike, WA, USA
Related Link:

VicRoads

Australians are known for their heavy drinking, and even if we're not really the heaviest drinkers in the world, we do have a reputation to try and live up to.

But drinking and driving is definitely not on. Carefully performed scientific studies over the last few decades have determined that it's a bloody stupid thing to do. If you want to get sloshed, you just need to make sure you're either (a) at home, (b) somewhere other than home where you can collapse and sober up afterwards or (c) you can get to either (a) or (b) without driving a motor vehicle.

I'll describe the drink/driving laws in Victoria, but the other states are pretty similar. The maximum legal BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) for most drivers is 0.05. The limit for P-plate drivers, of which I am one, is zero. P-plates apply for the first three years that you hold a driver's licence. P stands for Probationary, not for Porsche, Probably going to crash, or Police should pull me over.

As for the punishment for drink driving, if you get caught, you are in very deep shit. It starts off with everybody being able to legally call you "a bloody idiot". Your driving licence will be suspended for at least 6 months, or cancelled immediately. You can also be jailed or fined up to $1200.

I also believe that if you're over 0.15, they're allowed to shoot you on the spot. Or was that for rabies?

In an episode of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, one of the Abos (what you Aussies call Aboriginal people, I believe - we call 'em aboriginal peoples in Canada) pulls a large grub from as tree, pops it into his mouth and munches it down with great gusto. Has this habit of plucking bugs from trees and eating them spread to the non-native population, and if I make a trip to Australia in the near future, will I have to eat a grub to prove my manhood? - Patrick, Canada
  Firstly it's worth pointing out that Australians call Aborigines "Abos" in about the same circumstances as North Americans call African-Americans "Niggers", eg when they want to be derogatory. It's not exactly a friendly term, and one which most of those who are the subject of do not particularly like.

For thousands of years the Aborigines have managed to survive in Australia by eating native animals, including grubs and other such beasties that most whites would balk at eating. The most famous example of this were the explorers Burke and Wills, who set off to cross Australia last century and perished in the desert somewhere, after rejecting help from the local Aborigines, apparently because that help, although healthy, nutritious and life-saving, consisted of grubs.

Nowadays, it's unlikely that you'd have to eat such things if you didn't want to. You can go to McDonalds instead.

Why can I not get any Australian beer except for Foster's and Cooper's outside of Australia? I was there for 6 months and now would give anything for a Toohey's! - Erika, USA
  And North American Foster's is brewed in Toronto!

I don't know why Toohey's hasn't made it over there, but if you visit your local Outback Steakhouse, they do have a few other Australian beers (XXXX springs to mind). Just don't believe that any of the food is Australian, and try not to snigger too loudly if the waitress says "G'day mate" in an American accent.

Perhaps someone should organise to export Aussie beer to the Americans so they can discover how piss-weak their local brews are! (Chilli beer excepted)

I just read that in Australia you have Musk flavored Life Savers, and they were described as tasting like raw meat? Is this true? And if so is it disgusting? - Brian Stoll, USA
  Yes, we have musk flavoured Life Savers. I don't think they taste like raw meat. They taste like... umm.... musk.
Reading all that beer-related questions on your site I wondered why you guys drink such huge amounts of it. Is it:
  • because it´s so damn hot all day long
  • australian beer consists mainly of water (like american beer)
  • penal colony syndrome

- flecki, Austria

  Yes, in many parts of the country it can get very very hot, in which cases a nice cold beer goes down a treat.

I've heard it on good authority from people who have tried both American and Australian beer that most American beer is pretty weak stuff in comparison.

I'll have to look up "penal colony syndrome" in my medical encyclopedia when I get the time. And when I get a medical encyclopedia.

Actually the real reason there's so many beer-related questions here is that so many people keep asking them! We're almost at the stage where we need a separate section for beer.

I just read through "life in the office" one section dicusses'the biscuit jar'. What is a biscuit jar? What are biscuits? are they free or something you purchase? Isn't there a Dunkn' Donuts? - Dan, location unknown
  A biscuit jar is a jar that contains biscuits. Since you asked what a biscuit is, I’m betting you’re in North America or somewhere else where they don’t speak English (just joshin’), where a biscuit is probably better known as a cookie.

The biscuit jar is an office tradition. The company pays for the biscuit jar, and occasionally for the jar to be filled with biscuits. The biscuits come in two varieties - horrible ones which nobody likes, which means the jar stays full, or really nice ones that everybody likes which means the jar empties fast and someone in management decides in future to get horrible biscuits instead to save money.

No, we don’t have Dunkin’ Doughnuts here. We do have some doughnut shops around the place, but not in the plague-like proportions I have observed in the United States. The cops eat a lot of McDonalds instead, where they get everything for half-price.

Just enjoyed a Fosters this weekend and wondered... Can you purchase those huge 25.5 oz cans in six packs? American minds want to know! - Patrick, USA
Related Web sites:

Well, a metric to imperial converter would be handy...

Well, Australian minds want to know what the hell an "oz" is anyway. Yes yes, I know it's an ounce, but it would be nice if whoever made up the imperial system had used an abbreviation that actually was one. Still, it's not as bad as "lb".

I could whinge on about the vagaries of a measuring system that's based around such arcane things as the length of somebody's foot and includes such measurements as rods, perches and furlongs and ask when you guys are going to catch up with the rest of the world and go metric, but that wouldn't be answering the question at hand, would it?

So to answer the question... First so it makes sense, I need to convert it to metric so I know how huge the cans you're talking about are. Okay, so there are 4 fl oz in a gill, 4 gills in a pint, and 2 pints in a quart. And 1 litre is 1.057 quarts. So your 25.5 oz cans are about 750mls.

So can we buy Foster's in 6 packs of 750ml cans? No. Those ones only come individually. Because that's the small size of can. They're like those miniature bottles of wine you buy - nobody buys them for serious drinking, except maybe to put in the kids' lunchboxes. Your standard Australian can of beer is 10 litres. Honest. Really.

Crisps, Chips, Frys (sic) - I'm from America, so Chips come in a bag, and Frys in a box. My wife is from England so Crisps come in a bag and chips are in a box. SO, does Australia have Prawn flavored crisps or chips. And what is a chip buddy? - David, somewhere in America
  In Australia they're all chips. But if you're getting confused, here's a quick guide to the use of the word "chip":
  • Potato Chips. Generally referred to as "a packet of chips", or by their brand name, "Samboys", etc. as in the phrase "I can't be bothered getting some proper lunch, I'll just have a packet of chips". Smiths are the only ones to seriously refer to them as "crisps", and it's probably a trademark and/or heritage thing.
  • Hot Chips. Also often referred to as "a bucket of chips" as in the phrase "hamburger and a bucket of chips thanks". Can usually be abbreviated to just "chips" when ordering because no shop in their right minds puts potato chips behind the counter so you'd have to ask for them.
    In a Fish And Chips Shop situation, these are often ordered as "minimum chips" when the amount of chips is determined by how much you want to pay and the minimum (say $1.50) is marked on the price board.
    Once I asked for $1.50 of chips and the man in the shop, obviously still trying to work out how to use the cash register, entered too many zeroes. He couldn't work out how to clear them off, and ended up putting a sale through for $15,000 worth of chips.
  • French Fries. Really just like Hot Chips but cut thinner. Even in places that sell what would technically be French Fries, you'd normally refer to them as chips, except in McDonald's and Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King), where it's just "fries". The only people that use the full name "French Fries" are the same people that order a "Filet'O'Fish" and pronounce it "fill-ay of fish".

And yes, Australia does have flavoured potato chips. You can generally find all the usual flavours like chicken, salt and vinegar, barbecue, cheese and onion, beer and witchetty grub, etc.

Do you have Spam in Australia, and if you do, does anyone eat it? - Bill
  Yes, we do have Spam in Australia. We have both the electronic kind and the edible (at least, in theory) kind.

Electronic spam, the spread of unsolicited junk email, is by far the more annoying type of spam. I find it really irritating that I get continual offers of goods and services I'm not interested in, quoted in prices in other currencies and with phone numbers that I can't phone. (It is very difficult to dial a United States 1-800 number from outside the United States.)

Most email spam mailing lists come from robots picking up addresses off Usenet news postings, and I've seen a clever method for combating it involving adding some random characters to your email address when you post, and explaining to all the humans reading that if they want to email you, the real address is xxx...

The edible (at least, in theory) type of Spam is reasonably plentiful in Australia. You can always see it on the supermarket shelves, and presumably that's not because nobody buys it. They also advertise - this morning I saw an ad extolling the virtues of a Spamburger. I haven't yet decided whether this would be a good thing or not.

I've had Spam from time to time, and perhaps surprisingly I actually almost like it. Fried Spam with mashed potato... very nice.

I hasten to add, however, that anybody who attempts or suggests that Spam can be eaten raw is plainly either insane, criminal, crazy, or both. Raw Spam would have to be one of the most revolting things imaginable. It looks like dog food, and I rather suspect it tastes like it too.

Local radio has an ad running that says: "In which month do Australians drink the least beer?" Answer: "February. It has the least number of days." Do Australians have any plans to bring February up to par with the rest of the year? - Dan, Boston
  No, but we do plan to start drinking more during February.
Does anyone really enjoy eating Vegemite? Do you all eat it as some form of self-abuse?
Related sites:
Vegemite Central.
Vegemite is a black gooey substance made from malt extract. It was invented in the 1920s by someone trying to think of something to do with all the leftovers from making the truly vast quantities of beer that Australians consume.

Nowadays, Vegemite is used as a test to see how much visiting tourists will stand in their quest to immerse themselves in the local culture. If a tourist can get through a slice of toast with the Vegemite caked on top, all the Australians in the room will applaud and give that person all their money. Of course, this has never actually happened.

Australians do eat Vegemite. And although the tourism promotion people will be after me for this, I will reveal the secret of proper Vegemite consumption: we eat it in very, very, very, very, very small doses. The gram ratio of Vegemite to other food being consumed should be in the order of one to several billion. It should be barely noticeable. When consumed properly, one jar of Vegemite can last several generations.

I was wondering if Foster's (Australian Lager), was really big in Australia? The reason I ask anyways is because Corona is supposed to be some huge Mexican beer, but in Mexico the people hate it. - Dave from Detroit
Related sites:
CUB page
Well Dave, it's reasonably big, though in my personal opinion it tastes like complete koalas' piss. Mind you, the Foster's available in the USA is actually made in Toronto, so I wouldn't swear that it tastes the same overseas as here.

I generally prefer a Coldie (Carlton Cold), Toohey's Blue, XXXX, even a VB in an emergency. Anything but a Foster's, please. But each to his own. My wife prefers the fine flavour of Invalid Stout.

With all of the beer consumed in Australia, What is the legal drinking age??? - Jason
  The legal drinking age is eighteen. Months. No, just kidding. Eighteen years. Which is the same as the voting age. Does this mean you can legally turn up to vote when pissed? I'm not sure, but it conjures up some images, doesn't it!

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