Once revered for mystical red deserts, Australia as a culinary destination earns high marks from today’s foodies. With cutting-edge magazines like Gourmet Traveller and Wine Spectator giving frequent nods to the food, the restaurants, and the vineyards, it’s enough to make you pack your bags and make a reservation.
You won’t be disappointed. Contemporary Australian cuisine layers flavor on flavor to create a deliciously entangled melange known as Mod-Oz, short for Modern Australian. Dishes draw flavors from the world’s greatest food empires, Asia first and foremost. From Indonesia north to China and Japan and Polynesia west to Burma and India, there’s not a single Asian cuisine that can’t be found here. In cities like Sydney you can sample traditional Asian one day, then taste its echoes in a Mod-Oz creation the next.
A second great influence dates from the 1980s, when immigrants began arriving from the Mediterranean. Known as Mod-Med, this offshoot of Mod-Oz incorporates foods from both sides of the worldâs favorite sea. Particularly fine Italian and Greek restaurants can be found in Melbourne and Canberra, while the foods of Lebanon and Turkey – both fusion cuisines in their own right – are also abundant.
With seafood-rich coasts and a year-round growing climate, Australia is well-positioned for 21st century tastes, and even finicky grazers need not be afraid of term bush tucker. It’s simply the Oz word for what Americans call locavorism – bringing the best of what grows locally to the table at the peak of freshness. So try a little of everything, from traditional to Mod-Oz to Mod-Med. If in doubt, have what everyone else is having. You can hardly go wrong.