Deep roots of Asian cuisine in Australia

dumplingsIf an article in The Australian is to be believed, the best Asian food is in Australia. But then we have to give allowances for “nationalistic” bias — the article, after all, was written by an Australian for an Australian publication and is meant primarily to promote both Australia and Australian cooking. The article is not even an isolated marketing campaign. There really is a move to highlight Australia as a melting pot for Asian cuisines as well as an Asian food bowl.

Not that the campaign is entirely baseless. The past 50 years saw the influx of Asian immigrants to Australia and all of them brought their cuisines with them.

In the 1970s, many migrants arrived in Australia from South-East Asia and in recent migration streams a number of Asian countries have made a large contribution… [Australian Bureau of Statistics]

If you’re a fan of Food Safari, you’ll have an idea of the diversity of food in Australia.

The curious thing is how the immigrants from the past half century have assimilated well in their adopted country to the point that their cuisines have made quite a huge impact in the Australian dining scene. As late as 50 years ago, Australian laws have not been friendly to non-white people at all.

kangarooAustralia was colonized by Great Britain in the 1700s. But the vast land was not uninhabited when the British arrived there. Australia was populated by indigenous peoples who were eventually squeezed out by the White Man. Aboriginal land title was not recognized until the case of Mabo was decided in 1992. A “policy of assimilation” led to a series of laws beginning with the Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 authorizing the government and church missions to take aboriginal children from their parents even with no evidence of neglect. The policy was abandoned in 1970 but it wasn’t until 2008 when the government, through the Prime Minister, officially apologized for the mistreatment of the aboriginal people.

Curious, isn’t it, why the colonizers and their descendants had been unwilling for so long to share the land with its original inhabitants but were welcoming enough to immigrants from neighboring countries which has led to a charcterization of Australian cuisine as one “dominated by native Australian ingredients, Asian influences and European techniques.”

Stock photos from Pixabay.