Are Australian palettes changing?
Australians have always had a love of food, influenced by the vibrant multiculturalism of our population. But the staple dishes of the Australian diet have undergone serious changes in the last few years as our palettes adjust to a changing world.
The once near-ubiquitous traditional meat and three veg dinner that was the typical fare of many Australians definitely still exists, but to a much lesser degree. The massive influx of Asian immigrants over the past couple of decades has led to a dramatic increase in the popularity of this type of food. Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Indian dishes in particular have been integrated into our food culture.
Many Australian households are now comfortable with preparing and eating a noodle or rice based meal. In fact, there are now whole supermarket aisles dedicated international food. And we’ve also got past the point of eating merely the most unthreatening Asian dishes, such as fried rice and honey chicken.
Take sushi, for instance. It’s become a widely popular snack. And yet it contains raw fish, raw seaweed and wasabi. The fact that it’s now a staple cuisine at most food courts shows just how much the Australian palette has been transformed, widening and broadening to include many new flavours.
Australia, being the multicultural national that it is, is also great and merging and combining different food cultures, to create something new. Some of the hottest restaurants in Australia combine East and West dishes with reckless abandon. For instance, Tetsuya’s in Sydney combines French, Australian and Japanese food trends.
Another major driver of the changing trends in food, is the spike of health and environmental consciousness in popular culture. Increasingly widespread diets such as vegan, vegetarian, keto and paleo, to name a few, are helping to change our palettes. It’s become more commonplace than strange to have an entire meal that contains no meat, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. And there’s an increased emphasis on highlighting fresh ingredients, and letting them speak for themselves. Ingredients such as celtuce, a Chinese vegetable hailed as ‘the new kale’ are increasingly popular because of their nutritional value as well as taste.
As a result of this trend of health-consciousness, more consumers are also looking for traditional, older processing techniques. Just like in fashion, what's old is new again. Things like sourdough, kimchi and kombucha are making a reappearance, because they provide that inherent feeling of trust in their food that many consumers are yearning for. As the last few year have seen many foods become increasingly over-processed or preserved, it’s caused a violent swing in the opposite direction for many consumers.
The third major trend in food at the moment is the increasing expectation of more. In both presentation and taste, customers want that exoticism and elegance of fine dining available at a mass-market level. This is due to the popularity of food-based television shows, such as MasterChef, which emphasise the importance of a range of flavours and the skill of beautiful plating.
Instagram, as well, has increased the public’s desire for their food to contain a picture-worthy spectacle. If you search food-related hashtags on that platforms, you will find millions of results. This has created a desire for food that looks appetising, as well as tasting great. This leads to hipster-worthy, extravagant dishes, such as loaded donuts with sauce syringes.