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11 January 2009

The Oz series, #1: food/breakfast

I've been giving some thought to what people might actually want to know about life here in Oz, from the warped perspective of a Yank of a certain age. I've decided to do a series of posts on everyday items or experiences, starting with food.

Let's take it meal by meal and then we'll do snacks, perhaps with a trip to the supermarket.

Breakfast: anyone who knew me well enough in Cambridge knew I was a big, big fan of maple oatmeal scones from Darwin's Ltd. I'd have bite-size shredded wheat, Grape-Nuts, or granola some mornings, but I had a serious 4 to 5 scone a week habit. Sometimes, it would be bagels on a Sunday morning, or cinnamon rolls at Carberry's.

Here, you can get a pretty decent croissant and pain au raisin (French boulangerie style) in some of the local bakeries. Scones, however, are limited to the English/Bisquick style with raisins or sometimes dates & raisins. Muffins exist but are not very appealing visually. Donuts -- worse than Dunkin. As for bagels, I'm told you can get decent ones in Melbourne but they haven't made it to Brisbane yet.

I recently discovered unsweetened big (not bite size) shredded wheat -- all the minis have sugar added (go Kellogg's) -- at the supermarket. My vote for favorite breakfast item is cafe-style raisin toast. The cafes all serve this fluffy (not Wonder-fluffy, more like Arnolds or Pepperidge Farm) raisin bread sliced thick (about 1" per slice) and toasted. You can buy this bread in the supermarket under the brand name "Mighty Soft." Toasted at home and topped with some butter & cinnamon sugar, or pb & jam (you can get Bonne Maman jam!) it's about as good as it gets. For company, I make buttermilk pancakes using a very good recipe from, accompanied by real maple syrup imported from Canada, naturally.

For breakfast ("brekky") out, beyond the aforementioned raisin toast, there will usually be muesli with yoghurt & fruit, oatmeal, and plain toast on offer. Those who want the classic Brit greasy fry-up can get it: eggs, bacon (American-style is called "streaky bacon"), hash browns, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast are the building blocks of this artery-clogger.

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