The differences between Australia and Canada, part one: food.

I was originally going to write about what I have observed to be the  general differences between Australia and Canada, but ended up having so much to say about food that I’m going to have to write about social differences next time. Show’s where my priorities are..

Cheese:

Orange cheddar does not exist here. If that doesn’t throw you for a loop, cheddar tastes very different as well. Dairy products in general do not taste the same. Different agriculture, different cows, different product!

Milk:

Okay, this is confusing, but stay with me. In Canada, we have 2%, 1%, 3.25%, skim, half and half (for coffee) and cream (also for coffee). I would say 2% is the most common with 1% skim running a close second. They don’t bag milk here – it’s all cartons. I asked someone about it once and recieved a confused look and a “Canada is weird” response. In Australia, there is full cream (I believe it’s 4%, and this is their most common milk), “lite” (2%), skim, and thickened cream (for desserts). I was pretty confused the first time I went to the grocery store for milk: “But what are the percentages?!”

Coffee:

Percolated coffee doesn’t exist in Australia. It’s all about the espresso here (although it’s not commonly called espresso… It’s just called coffee.) People drink cappuccinos (espresso, steamed milk with a decent amount of foam and chocolate sprinkled on top), flat whites (espresso, steamed milk, and a thin layer of foam in the same mug used for cappuccinos), lattes (same amount of foam as a cappuccino but it’s in a clear glass without a handle), long blacks (shot of coffee and hot water), and short blacks (espresso shot). On the plus side, coffee is more of an art here — people become skilled at making coffee. I’m constantly impressed with the pretty designs – a treat for your eyes and your taste buds! On the downside, coffee is incredibly inconsistent. I’m pretty sure I’ve had more bad coffee than good here. I’m always nervous taking the first sip of coffee at a place I haven’t tried, or even a place that’s normally good but a different barista. There are many factors involved: the coffee roast, properly rinsing the machine in between coffees so that bits don’t get burned, running the water through the shot immediately so as not to burn the coffee, steaming the milk appropriately, and the list goes on. Needless to say, there’s a lot of potential to mess it up. In Canada, percolated coffee is pretty consistent. Once you find a place with a good roast, you’re good to go. However, I think that percolated coffee is mediocre at best, whereas a good espresso based coffee is delightful. Depends on if you want to play the risk or go for the sure thing.

Eggs:

The eggs from the grocery store are more orange here. There are a lot more options with free range, caged, grain fed, farm, and so forth. Also, in Woolworths eggs aren’t stored in a fridge. Eggs are always refrigerated in Canada.

Biscuits:

I have had the privilege of eating Tim Tams, and believe me, they are a gift from the cookie masters. A Tim Tam is an Australian “biscuit”, or in Canadian terms, a chocolate cookie. In the grocery store there is an aisle for biscuits, which are essentially cookies and crackers.

Meat:

Lamb and veal are incredibly popular here. They are not that common in Canada. That’s that.

Bananas:

Banana’s are so expensive here! I haven’t bought any bananas since I’ve been here because one single banana could cost almost $3! The banana fields got wiped out in the floods back in January, and ever since they’ve been too expensive.  Sad.

Restaurants:

Mc Donald’s has many a nickname in North America. One that I hadn’t hear till I arrived down under was Maccas. There’s also a place called Hungry Jacks, which has the exact same logo as Burger King. Speaking of burgers, it’s hard to find a good one here. As for restaurants, you can always find lots of Italian, Indian, Thai, and “Australian.” Also, there’s a kebab (shawarma) place on every corner. Oh, and fries are called chips.

Bacon most commonly used at North American restaurants.

Breakfast:

Australian’s are better at portion control. In Canada, if you see “eggs on toast” on a menu for $12, you’d assume it also comes with hash browns, meat, and maybe some tomato or fruit. Here, it literally means, eggs on toast (gasp!).  Also, over easy eggs don’t exist here. You can have eggs fried (sunny side up), scrambled, or most commonly, poached. Bacon is a lot more thick here. It kind of looks like long strips of peameal bacon.

Food health and safety:

The type of bacon commonly used in Australia.

I’ve worked at two restaurants in Australia and we’ve never been randomly tested for health and safety. In Canada it’s very common for  someone to come and do tests to make sure cleanliness is up to snuff. Also, I know in Toronto and London there are grading systems outside of restaurants so that patrons can see how a restaurant did on testing (red, yellow, green, etc). I haven’t seen anything like that in Australia. This definitely speaks to the differences in cultures. North America is a lot more legalistic and Australia is much more laid back. However, this doesn’t mean that restaurants here are unsafe. The places I’ve worked at are incredibly clean and I haven’t walked into any super sketchy places.

Chocolate:

Let me tell you about Max Brenner, also known as a glimpse of heaven. It’s this glorious restaurant that serves chocolate fondue, chocolate brownies, waffles with chocolate drizzled on top, chocolate smoothies… So. Much. Chocolate.

MAX BRENNER!

Need I say more?

Overall, there are a lot of a food differences between Australia and Canada, with positives and negatives in both countries.

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I love you, coffee.

Karen and I love coffee. It’s always such a joyous moment when get coffee, so we decided to capture a little bit of that happiness on film. Yes, the emotions you will see in these pictures are real. We love coffee that much.

It all began the first time Karen and I hung out.  We got up at the early hour of 7am to travel to Coolangatta to watch the Quicksilver Surf Competition. After stumbling around half asleep, we made our way to the bus stop not knowing which bus to take and where Coolangatta was located. We asked the bus driver of the first bus we saw if we could get to the surf competition by taking that bus, and she informed us we could. We asked her what stop to get off at and she said “Twin Towns, right after New South Wales.” Not understanding her accent neither of knew she said “Twin Towns” but we did here the second part. Although this was when I first got to Australia and I didn’t know much about anything, I knew that New South Wales is a different state from Queensland.

Needless to say we were very confused and still didn’t know how we would know where to get off, and to make matters worse, I had to top up my Go Card and couldn’t find money. As I rummaged through my bag looking for cash, all of the contents of my purse crashed to the floor. My makeup compact smashed into pieces as the lady bus driver looked at us in disgust. Karen and I, still without coffee, looked at each other in slow motion and said a very unenthusiastic “oh.” After a solid four minutes from when we got on the bus we finally took our seats, leaving a trail of makeup behind us. An hour and a half later we passed a sign for New South Wales and went looking for the surf competition. We followed some guys with surf boards but were faced with a dilemma when they went in different directions. Eventually we managed to find the beach and followed a path. “So, those waves are tiny. Almost non-existent,” I said, “Maybe once we go around this corner they will be huge!” Karen replied. The waves did not get any bigger and we were informed that the competition was canceled. Everything was better as soon as we got our coffee.

Gloria Jeans, Coolangatta

This picture was taken at the Starbucks in Broadbeach. It was a beautiful day and we were about to go to Blues Fest. Combine coffee with sunshine, harmonicas, and good friends, and life does not get any better.

Starbucks, Broadbeach

This picture was taken right before we road tripped to Byron Bay. First Avenue is a cafe right in Surfers, and its coffee is really hit or miss. This wasn’t the best coffee we’ve ever had, but considering it was 9:00am, we were still thrilled just to have coffee.

First Avenue, Surfers Paradise Blvd

This coffee was from Max Brenner, which is essentially a chocolate heaven. Luba, Karen and I went out to Main Beach for a delicious steak meal which we followed up with dessert at Max Brenner. We had chocolate fondue, a huge waffle with ice cream, fruit, and chocolate drizzled all over, and a couple of decaf skinny lattes. Yes we are fully aware of the irony of drinking decaf skinny lattes after copious amounts of dessert.

Max Brenner, Main Beach

This picture was taken at Starbucks in downtown Brisbane. We had just finished a day of shopping and were ready to warm up and relax.

Starbucks, Brisbane

Yep, we love coffee that much.