Many Aussies unwittingly plan on indulging in some very un-Australian foods this Australia Day according to startling findings from a new nationwide poll looking at what’s on the menu and where we think it first originated.
The Newspoll survey of 1203 Australians aged 18 and over shows that while the vast majority know Anzac biscuits and kangaroo meat are ‘true blue’ Aussie delights, only half (53%) know the truth about the origins of macadamias, our delicious native nut that has taken over the world.
Alarmingly, 44% of those surveyed claim mangoes first originated in Australia, 40% prawns and lamb, 35% potato salad, 28% the humble green salad and almost a quarter (23%) sausages. Two thirds (65%) would take on the Kiwis over who first created pavlova.
Jolyon Burnett, CEO of the Australian Macadamia Society, said that while all the foods surveyed are grown or made here, only macadamias, kangaroo meat and Anzac biscuits are as Aussie as a didgeridoo.
“New Zealanders invented the pav, ancient Romans and Greeks were known to enjoy salads, prawns and sausages, mangoes are native to Southern Asia where they have been cultivated since ancient times and lamb was eaten in Central Asia as early as 10,000 years ago,” Mr Burnett said.
“Even potatoes didn’t originate in our own backyard having been uncovered by the Incas in Peru centuries ago,” he said.
The Newspoll survey revealed Anzac biscuits as the most popular local fare this Australia Day with 71% of those surveyed wanting to see them on the menu, followed by macadamias which found favour with almost two thirds (62%). Not surprisingly, only a third (32%) hope to be eating kangaroo, our national emblem, although this rises to 43% among men.
The most popular non-Australian foods are green salad (89% of respondents would like to have some on our nation’s birthday), potato salad (favoured by 84%) and lamb (83% support). Good old snags are craved by 76% of Australians, mangoes by 74%, prawns by 73% and pavlova by 68%. Men are more likely to be devouring meat options while women are more likely to indulge in sweet treats.
Mr Burnett said the best way to celebrate Australia Day is to cherish not just our locally grown produce but also indulge in our wonderful natives.
“Macadamias are without doubt the world’s finest nut. Try roasting them with wattleseed, lemon myrtle or pepperberry for a real taste of Australia or chop them up and add them to your green or potato salad or incorporate them as a crust on lamb dishes,” he said.
Macadamias are steeped in Australian history with Aboriginal communities relying on the nut as a source of nutrition and celebration for thousands of years. Referring to them as ‘Kindal Kindal’, they viewed macadamias as something very special and often used them as ceremonial gifts.
Today macadamias are the only native plant that has been developed and traded as a commercial food product with around 850 growers producing around 35,000 tonnes.
Australia is acknowledged as the world leader in production, research, marketing and development, and is the largest producer and exporter, delivering macadamias to more than 40 countries worldwide. Between $120 and $130 million worth of Australian macadamia products are exported each year.
The highly prized nuts are grown along the eastern seaboard of New South Wales and Queensland from Nambucca Heads in the south to Mackay in the north. The industry is still growing strong with expansion taking place in the Bundaberg region of central Queensland where many large farms are under development.