It's amazing how everyday-not-very-significant items can remind you of a certain phase in your life. The two years that I spent living in Australia seems like a lifetime ago (well it has been over four years), but if I do come across the below grub, it would bring back a wave of memories from that time. Here I write about some of the best munchies I came across in Australia. If you ever visit the place, do try them. Here in India, I won't find most of these and what I would do to go back in time and savour them more!
This biscuit manufacturing giant is an Aussie favourite and a source of pride. Who would've thought it'd be possible to make huge turnovers from just a humble biscuit! This brand touches close to my heart because during our mid-lecture tea/coffee breaks, a huge box full of Arnott's biscuits was served to us and we'd all grab our favourites from the bunch and you could spot an Indian from a mile away dunking the biscuit into his hot cuppa!
Tim Tams: You can't come back from Aussieland without having stocked up at least 20% of your luggage space with these chocolate biscuits! This iconic brand's got chocolate biscuits sandwiching decadent chocolate cream and coated with a layering of more chocolate cream. My favourite was the milk chocolate and dark chocolate variety. Just one of these biscuits post my dinner would suffice as dessert!
Monte Carlo: Yes, I know this sounds too 'regal' for a biscuit right, but the funny thing about this variety is that I hated it when I first ate it, but it sort of grew on me over time - why?, because this biscuit is weird yet yummy. The biscuits are jumbo and coconut-ey while the cream filling is delightfully sweet and (here's why it's weird) has a subtle pink casing around it that sort of mildly sticks to the roof of your mouth.
Custard Cream: I could kill for these biscuits! Such a teasingly sweet cream filling this one has...and I'm not sure what way I best like to eat this biscuit - lick the cream filling first and then savour the biscuits on their own or bite the whole thing at once so it creates magic in my mouth (a bit too melodramatic I know but...well...)!
Shapes: One of the best savoury biscuits out on the shelves. The brand never bores you because of the sheer variety and authenticity of the flavours it comes out with. If you want a thumb-sized woodfired pizza, you just need to get the wood-fired pizza flavoured Shapes. Yes! Cheddar, Cheese & Bacon (seriously!), BBQ, Chicken, Nacho Cheese are just some of its assortments.
But this! This Aussie version of a potato snack was my biggest weakness. It was comfort food. No wait, it was cheap, comfort food. In the winter, after or before my lectures, I'd run to the university cafe and head straight for the place that sold hot fresh potato cakes. Because they're deep-fried, they're greasy, and the flour coating was slightly chewy (I loved that part most!) and the salted, flattened mashed potato inside was steamy hot and soft! If I remember correctly, one of these was priced at 80 cents. See? Cheap. And delish.
Potatoes never disappoint. This is one diverse vegetable! And I love the hash brown avatar of it as well (little surprise there!). So this one came in handy when I'd run out of ideas for what to cook for brekky (Aussie version of breakfast you see..it's all coming back to me) or for dinner, I'd go to Safeway (one of the two big supermarkets there and now known as Woolworths) and grab a couple of these freshly made from their deli. I'd pan fry it with some butter and stuff it between some bread and cheese and scatter some black pepper flakes to make me a really, really delicious and quick sandwich. And cheap again, each costed about a dollar and a half back then.
Smith's Cheetos Cheese & Bacon Balls
And we're back to bacon. Before I even started eating bacon, I started eating bacon-flavoured Cheetos. If English breakfast was perfumed, this is what it would smell like - cheese and bacon. Crispy and rounded with that smoky bacon flavour, this one was a winner!
Thins Honey Barbecue Ribs
Need I say more? No, but I surely will. I don't eat ribs, never have. But I couldn't resist getting a taste of it through these sinful chips. Crisp, slightly sweet from the honey and hot from the barbecue seasoning, these chips pack a burst of flavour! I'd usually snack on this while I was perched on my bed cosy under the blanket watching a movie. Good times those!
Belgian Chocolate Pancake Mix
I have seldom before tried any packaged product that tasted as good as this one. A powder pre-mix that required only water and a spoon full of oil (I think) to get the batter going, resulted in the most decadent stack of Belgian Chocolate pancakes! This was my lazy Sunday brunch indulgence that took barely few minutes to whip up. I couldn't find a picture of the product but the one below will suffice as an indication of the packaging. I'm not even sure this was the brand I tried actually.
Fish & Chips
If anything good ever came out of war, it was fish and chips - a convenient, cheap and nutritious meal created for soldiers in battle. The Australians have done a really good job at taking forward this iconic British meal. In Brunswick, close to where I stayed in Melbourne, there was a cluster of convenience stores, chemists, diners, restaurants and take away shops, one of which served Fish & Chips packed in styrofoam boxes. I still recall coming back on a very chilly night at around 9.30PM after my university lecture and packing this for my dinner. Served with two big lemon wedges and soft chips, the batter-fried fish was flaky, juicy and succulent! I haven't had better till date.
So there! Australia was great in terms of the variety their supermarkets and cafes offered. I have not since been able to enjoy a packet of Indian-manufactured chips because they don't come close to what I've tried before. The biscuits here taste to me 'manufactured' and 'plastic'. And overall, I crave for variety that is just not available. I'm not bitten by the foreign bug in case you're wondering, but there, they really know what quality is all about and you do end up getting worth for the money you pay. Period.