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Rice and Peas ............................................................ 144
Coconut Chips.......................................................... 146
Brown-Stewed Fish.................................................... 146
Jerk Chicken.............................................................. 147
Jamaican Christmas Cake ......................................... 148
Jamaican Fruit Drink.................................................. 149
"Almost" Ting........................................................... 150
Curry Chicken ........................................................... 150
Baked Ripe Banana.................................................... 150
Gizzada..................................................................... 151


Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean Sea, about 90 miles south of Cuba. The island is comparable in size to Connecticut (in the United States) and is made up of coastal lowlands, a limestone plateau, and the Blue Mountains. Jamaica's size and varied terrain allow for a diversity of growing conditions that produce a wide variety of crops.

The northeastern part of Jamaica is one of the wettest spots on Earth with more than 100 inches of annual rainfall. The island is also susceptible to hurricanes and suffered more than $300 million in damage when Hurricane Gilbert hit in 1988.

The tropical climate of Jamaica (averaging around 80°F) and its miles of white beaches make it one of the most alluring islands in the Caribbean for tourists. Another popular attraction for vacationers is the island's more than 800 caves, many of which were home to the earliest inhabitants.


Before Christopher Columbus landed in Jamaica in 1492, the original inhabitants of the island were a Amerindian tribe called the Arawaks. They grew the spinach-like callaloo, papayas (which they called pawpaws), and guava. They also produced two crops each per year of maize (corn), potatoes, peanuts, peppers, and beans.

The Arawaks roasted seafood and meat on a grate suspended on four-forked sticks called a barbacoa, which is the origin of Western barbecue.

The closest neighboring Amerindian tribe was the Caribs, who were the most feared warriors of the Caribbean. They ate more simply than the Arawaksmostly fish and peppers.

The Spanish invaded Jamaica, then called Xaymaca ("the land of wood and water") in the late 1400s. They were responsible for importing many of the plants for which Jamaica is now known, such as sugar cane, lemons, limes, and coconuts. They also imported pigs, cattle, and goats. The Spanish turned to trading slaves from Africa's West Coast for labor. The slaves brought with them ackee (a tropical tree with edible fruit, now the national fruit of Jamaica), okra, peanuts, and a variety of peas and beans, all considered staples in the modern-day Jamaica.

Jamaica is now an English-speaking country, although it has a Creole dialect called patois, which is influenced mostly by West African languages. Ninety-five per cent of the population is of partial or total African descent. Nearly the whole population is native-born Jamaican.

Rice and Peas

Kidney beans may be substituted for Jamaican peas (usually pidgeon peas).


  • 1 cup canned red kidney beans
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 stalk of fresh thyme, finely chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • Hot pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Combine beans, water, coconut milk, thyme, green onions, and onions over medium heat until just boiling.
  2. Add salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes to taste.
  3. Add rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes until rice is tender and liquids have been absorbed. Check after 15 minutes and add more water if necessary.
  4. Serve warm.

Serves 8 to 10.


Jamaicans eat foods that are flavored with spices such as ginger, nutmeg, and allspice (pimento). Allspice, the dried berries of the pimento plant, is native to Jamaica and an important export crop. (This is different from pimiento, the red pepper used to stuff green olives.) Many meals are accompanied by bammy, which is a toasted bread-like wafer made from cassava (or yucca, pronounced YOO-kah).

With the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea surrounding the island, seafood is plentiful in the Jamaican diet. Lobster, shrimp, and fish such as red snapper, tuna, mackerel, and jackfish are in abundance.

Ways to Prepare Plantains

  1. Sliced, pan-fried into chips, and eaten with salsa.
  2. Baked and seasoned with margarine, lime juice, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
  3. Mashed with cooked apples or butternut squash.
  4. Pureed and added to soups as a thickener.
  5. Cut in chunks and put into soups and stews.
  6. Sautéed in long strips and served with chicken or pork.
  7. Oven-baked with brown sugar, then served with pineapple chunks and vanilla ice cream as a dessert.

Fruits grow extremely well in Jamaica's tropical climate. Mangoes, pineapple, papaya, bananas, guava, coconuts, ackee, and plantains are just a few of the fruits eaten fresh or used in desserts. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. It is a bright red tropical fruit that bursts open when ripe, and reveals a soft, mild, creamy yellowish flesh. If the fruit is forced open before ripe, it gives out a toxic gas poisonous enough to kill. Plantains look like bananas, may be up to a foot long, and have the consistency of potatoes when unripe. Unlike bananas, when the skin turns black, some people think they taste the best.

Coconut Chips


  • 1 coconut
  • Salt


  1. To dry and open the coconut: Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Poke a metal skewer through two of the "eyes" and drain out the liquid from the coconut. Reserve the liquid for another use or discard.
  3. Place the coconut in the oven on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the coconut and wrap in a clean kitchen towel. Carefully crack it open with a hammer.
  5. After removing the flesh from the shell, remove the brown skin with a knife, and cut into thin strips. Wash and drain.
  6. Turn oven down to 350°F.
  7. Place the coconut on a greased cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned (do not over brown).
  8. Sprinkle with salt. Serve as you would nuts.

The national dish of Jamaica is ackee and saltfish. Saltfish is dried, salted fish, usually cod, which must be soaked in water before cooking. The ackee fruit is fried with onions, sweet and hot peppers, fresh tomatoes, and boiled saltfish. It is popular to eat for breakfast or as a snack.

Other staples include brown-stewed fish or beef (Jamaicans are fond of gravy), curried goat, and pepperpot soup, made from callaloo (greens), okra, and beef or pork.

Brown-Stewed Fish


  • 6 fish fillets
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 green pepper, cut into chunks and seeds removed
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Fish stock or water


  1. Heat about 3 Tablespoons of oil over medium to high heat and fry the fish until golden brown.
  2. Remove the fish and set aside. Drain nearly all of the oil from the pan.
  3. In the oil that is left in the pan, sauté the onions, tomatoes, green onions, and other vegetables.
  4. Add enough fish stock or water to cover the vegetables.
  5. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and add the fish.
  6. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the sauce thickens to a gravy-like consistency. Serve.

Serves 6.

"Jerking" is a native Jamaican method of spicing and slowly cooking meat to preserve the juices and produce a unique, spicy flavor. First, a seasoning that usually contains hot peppers, onions, garlic, thyme, allspice, ginger, and cinnamon is rubbed all over the meat. The jerked meat is then cooked over an outdoor pit lined with wood, usually from the pimento.

Jerk Chicken


  • 1 pound skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ginger, ground
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Combine all ingredients except the chicken into a blender and blend to a paste.
  2. Pour into a shallow baking dish or sealable plastic bag.
  3. Add chicken and turn to coat.
  4. Cover and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. Remove chicken from marinade and pour marinade into a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  6. Chicken may now be cooked on a grill or baked in the oven. To grill, preheat the grill. Remove chicken and place chicken on a grill. (Ask an adult to help with the grilling.) Cook approximately 7 to 10 minutes per side until done, basting with boiled marinade.
  7. To bake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken in a baking dish and bake 20 to 25 minutes. After 15 minutes, baste with remaining marinade.

Serves 4 to 8.


The majority of Jamaicans, more than 80 percent, are Christian. Most holidays and celebrations center on this religious theme. Christmas in Jamaica naturally has a tropical flavor, ranging from the food to the Christmas carols.

Christmas carols are the same ones popular in the Western world, but their versions are set to a Reggae style, the syncopated style of music for which Jamiaica is famous. Christmas dinner is usually a big feast. It includes the traditional jerked or curried chicken and goat, and rice with gungo peas (a round white pea, also called pigeon pea).

Gungo peas are a Christmas specialty, where red peas are eaten with rice the rest of the year. The traditional Christmas drink is called sorrel. It is made from dried parts of the sorrel (a meadow plant), cinnamon, cloves, sugar, orange peel, and rum and is usually served over ice.

Preparations for the Christmas feast start days, even months ahead by baking cakes like the traditional Black Jamaican Cake. To make this cake, fruits are soaked in bottles of rum for at least two weeks. After the cake is baked, allowing it to sit for up to four weeks is common to improve its taste.

Jamaican Christmas Cake

This is an easy version of the traditional cake.


  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt ½ cup cherries
  • 1 cup prunes, chopped
  • 1 cup wine (or substitute water)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 lemon or lime rind, finely grated
  • 2 Tablespoons browning (see below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. and grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. To make browning: in a saucepan, add ½ Tablespoon water to brown sugar and heat over medium to high heat until the sugar is burnt. Let cool.
  3. With a beater, beat butter, sugar and browning until soft and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, to butter mixture. Add wine or water and mix well. Add fruits.
  5. Add dry ingredients, stirring just to comine. Do not over-beat when mixing. Pour batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan.
  6. Bake for 1½ hours, checking after one hour. Cake is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Serves 12 (or more).

Independence Day, celebrated on the first Monday in August, commemorates Jamaica's independence from Great Britain in 1962. During Independence Day festivities, Jamaicans celebrate their island culture and cuisine, with dancing, feasting, and exhibitions of artists'work. Local street vendors showcase native foods such as sweet sugar cane, boiled corn, jerked chicken and pork, and roast fish. Ice cream vendors with pushcarts offer ice-cold jellies, fruit smoothies, and ice cream to the crowd.

Jamaican Fruit Drink


  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 apple
  • 1 peach
  • 2 slices pineapple
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 slice ripe papaya


  1. Peel and dice all of the fruits into small pieces.
  2. Place into a blender and blend in until smooth.


A Jamaican meal is usually a relaxing, social time. The dishes of food are set on the table at once, and everyone takes whatever they like. Table manners are considered less important than enjoying the food and the company. In rural areas families usually eat dinner together each day after 4 p.m., while families in urban areas might not have a chance to eat together except on weekends. A prayer is often said before and after meals. Eating outdoors to enjoy the warm weather is popular, especially in gardens and on patios. Jamaicans usually eat three meals a day with snacks in between. Breakfast and dinner are considered the most important meals.

A popular breakfast dish is the national one: ackee and saltfish. While it looks similar to scrambled eggs, the taste is quite different. It is usually served with callaloo, boiled green bananas, a piece of hard-dough bread (a slightly sweet-tasting white loaf) or a sweet bread called Johnnycake. Other popular morning dishes include cornmeal, plantain or peanut porridge, steamed fish, or rundown make with smoked mackerel.Rundown is flaked fish boiled with coconut milk, onion, and seasoning.

Roadside vendors are very popular in Jamaica and sell a variety of foods and drinks that can be eaten on the go, which is typical for a lunch in Jamaica. Fish tea (a broth), pepperpot soup, and buttered roast yams with saltfish are just a few examples. "Bun and cheese," which is a sweet bun sold with a slice of processed cheese, can be a quick lunch. Ackee with saltfish is a common snack sold at a stand, but the best-known snack are patties. Patties are flaky pastries filled with spicy minced meat or seafood.

Native rum and beer are popular, but there are a variety of non-alcoholic drinks as well. Refreshing fruit juices are also available. A roadside stand may have what is called ice-cold jelly. The vendor opens a coconut with a machete (a large, heavy knife) and the milk is drunk straight from the nut. The vendor will then split the shell and offer a piece of it so you can eat the soft coconut meat inside. Sky juice (cones of shaved ice flavored with fruit syrup) is also popular along with Ting, a sparkling grapefruit juice drink.

"Almost" Ting

This recipe makes a drink very similar to the popular Jamaican soft drink, Ting.


  • 1 bottle grapefruit juice
  • 1 bottle lemon-lime soft drink (such as 7-Up or Slice)
  • Crushed ice or ice cubes


  1. Fill a drinking glass with crushed ice or ice cubes.
  2. Pour in equal parts of grapefruit juice and lemon-lime soda.

Serve immediately.

It is customary for all Jamaican hot drinks to be called "tea." Jamaican coffee is popular. One particular Jamaican brand is among the best and most expensive in the world and is one of the country's main exports. Hot chocolate is usually drunk with breakfast, but is more complicated to prepare than the Western version. It is made from balls of locally grown cocoa spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and boiled with water and condensed milk.

Dinner is usually peas and rice with chicken, fish, or sometimes pork. Chicken is usually jerked or curried (flavored with curry spice). Fish can be grilled, steamed with okra and allspice, or served in a spicy sauce of onions, hot peppers, and vinegar. Festival, which is a sweet, lightly fried dumpling, is another native dish.

Curry Chicken


  • 1 to 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
  • 2 Tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 cups cooked white rice, with peas added if desired
  • Dash each of onion powder, thyme, garlic powder, pepper, and salt


  1. Cut chicken into small pieces and let sit in lemon juice for at least 1 hour.
  2. Remove chicken and season with spices and seasonings.
  3. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat cooking oil in a frying pan on medium to high heat.
  5. Add chicken and cook about 7 to 10 minutes per side, or until thoroughly cooked.

A fresh piece of tropical fruit may be the perfect refresher to top off a spicy meal. Many Jamaican dessert recipes are centered on fruit as the main ingredient. A simple sauce is sometimes its only accompaniment.

Baked Ripe Banana


  • 4 large ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 4 Tablespoons lime or orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon allspice


  1. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  2. Peel the bananas and slice into two pieces, length-wise.
  3. Grease a shallow baking dish with a little of the butter or margarine. Arrange the bananas in the dish.
  4. In a mixing bowl, mix together the honey and lime or orange juice.
  5. Pour the mixture over the bananas slices and sprinkle with the allspice.
  6. Place dots of the remaining butter or margarine on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 5.


This dessert is also called "Pinch-Me-Rounds" because the edges of the pastry are pinched together.

Ingredients for pastry

  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk


  1. Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix to form dough.
  2. Roll out dough on floured surface with a rolling pin into a thin sheet.
  3. Cut into rounds (with knife or cookie cutter) and fit them into greased muffin tins.

Ingredients for filling

  • 1 cup grated coconut, fresh or packaged
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ teaspoon lime juice


  1. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Fill the pastry bases half full, and pinch the dough together at the top.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Serves 8 to 12.


About 11 percent of the population of Jamaica is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 10 percent are underweight, and more than 10 percent are stunted (short for their age).

Children's rights are protected by the 1951 Juvenile Act. This law restricts children under 12 from being employed, except in domestic or agricultural work, and provides protective care for abused children. However, a lack of resources prevents this law from being fully applied. Children under 12 can be seen peddling goods or services on city streets.



DeMers, John. The Food of Jamaica: Authentic Recipes from the Jewel of the Caribbean. Boston, MA: Periplus Editions, 1998.

Donaldson, Enid. The Real Taste of Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica: Randle Publishers, 1993.

Goldman, Vivien. Pearl's Delicious Jamaican Dishes: Recipes from Pearl Bell's Repertoire. New York: Island Trading, 1992.

Walsh, Robb & Jay McCarthy. Traveling Jamaica with Knife, Fork & Spoon: A Righteous Guide to Jamaican Cookery. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1995.

Willinsky, Helen. Jerk: Barbeque from Jamaica. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1990.

Web Sites [Online] Available (accessed April 4, 2001).

Bella Online. [Online] Available (accessed April 4, 2001).

The Global Gourmet. [Online] Available (accessed April 4, 2001).

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Grated Carrot, Apple, and Raisin Salad........................ 20
Australian Meat Pie ..................................................... 21
Black Australian Coffee................................................ 22
ANZAC Biscuits ........................................................... 22
Lamingtons................................................................. 23
Christmas Shortbread.................................................. 24
Pavlova ....................................................................... 24
Quick No-Cook Mini-Pavlova ...................................... 25
Chocolate Crackles...................................................... 27
Toast with Vegemite or Milo Spread............................ 27


Australia is the world's smallest continent. Lying southeast of Asia between the Pacific and Indian oceans, its diverse landscapes and climates are home to a wide variety of plants and animals.

It is generally warm and dry all year round, with no extreme cold and little frost. Average annual rainfall is 17 inches (42 centimeters), much less than the mean for all the countries of the world of 26 inches (66 centimeters). As a result, insufficient rainfall can cause droughts that threaten to destroy crops.

The country's limited rainfall can also cause problems with water quality and availability. Because Australia produces most of its own food, a water shortage for plants and animals can cause agricultural production to suffer.


Captain Arthur Phillip of England established the first modern settlement in Australia in January 1788. The settlers were not very experienced as farmers and early agricultural practices were disastrous. Crop failure caused food shortages and even starvation. Settlers depended on goods imported from Englandsuch as tea, flour, beef, oatmeal, and cheeseto survive. They also learned to eat foods they found around them, such as fish and wild fruits and nuts.

The Australian diet has been heavily influenced by peoples from all over the world. The Potato Famine of the 1840s in Ireland led many desperate starving Irish people to leave their homeland, seeking relief in Australia (as well as Canada, the United States, and elsewhere). Gold was discovered in Australia a few years later, bringing more people to the country. Following World War II (193945), Europeans and Asians arrived in greater numbers. As a result, cuisines from other countries, such as Italy, Greece, and Lebanon, became popular. Europeans introduced tea, cocoa, coffee, fruits, and a variety of cheeses, and Asians introduced new spices and the technique of stir-fry.


The end of World War II brought about significant change in Australian cuisine. People from Europe and Asia brought new crops, seasonings, and cooking methods with them.

Wheat, rice, oranges, bananas, and grapes are just a few of the crops that grow in abundance throughout the country. Meat has always been a large part of the Australian diet, although Australians (like others around the world) began to be concerned about controlling cholesterol and fat in their diet, and decreased their consumption of meat slightly toward the end of the twentieth century. Kangaroo, though once a popular meat in Australia's early history, is no longer widely consumed; beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and seafood are more common in twenty-first century Australia.

Grated Carrot, Apple, and Raisin Salad


  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 medium red apple, chopped fine
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut, flaked
  • Juice of lemon


  1. Carefully remove several firm leaves from the head of lettuce, and arrange in a bowl.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mound mixture in the lettuce "cup." Serve with cottage cheese, chicken, or lean cold meat.

Serves 6.

A typical breakfast may consist of fruit, toast with Vegemite (a salty yeast spread), fried eggs and bacon, and juice. Lunch may be an apple or a salad (such as Grated Carrot, Apple, and Raisin salad), a sandwich filled with tuna or deli meats, and an ANZAC biscuit for a treat. (ANZAC is the acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. No one knows for sure, but many people think these biscuits were first prepared for troopsand for Australian and New Zealand familiesaround 1915 during World War I.) Dinnertime often brings leg of lamb or barbecued prawns (shrimp), roasted vegetables, a salad, and a custard or tart for dessert. Damper, a simple homemade bread, and billy tea, named for the pot it is heated in, both remain a staple for any meal.

Meat pie is considered the Australian national dish. One newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, reported some statistics about meat pie consumption in the country:

  • Almost 260 million pies are consumed every year, or almost 15 per person
  • Men eat meat pies almost twice as often as women
  • 62 percent of meat pies are filled with chopped steak (ground beef)
  • 36 percent are filled with steak and onion, steak and kidney, steak and potato, or steak and mushroom
  • Just 2 percent are filled with chicken

Australian Meat Pie


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 prepared pie shells, 8-inch


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine ground beef, ketchup, onion, salt, milk, breadcrumbs, oregano, and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Divide mixture into 2 pie shells and bake for about 45 minutes.
  5. While the pies are baking, mix together Worcestershire sauce and cheese in another bowl.
  6. After about 45 minutes, remove pies from oven.
  7. Spread Worcestershire sauce and cheese mixture on top of pie shells.
  8. Bake for about 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serves 6.

Black Australian Coffee


  • 4 heaping Tablespoons decaffeinated coffee grounds
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of dry powdered mustard (optional)
  • 1 lemon, sliced crosswise into thin rounds


  1. Measure water into a saucepan and heat.
  2. Sprinkle coffee on top of water.
  3. Add salt and mustard, if desired.
  4. Heat the mixture slowly to the boiling point.
  5. Remove from heat immediately.
  6. Let stand for 5 minutes and strain.
  7. Serve coffee with a slice of lemon in each cup.

ANZAC Biscuits


  • 1 cup margarine or butter
  • 2 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Combine oatmeal, sugar, white flour, and whole-wheat flour in a bowl.
  3. Melt margarine and add corn syrup and water in a small pan over heat.
  4. Add the baking soda to pan and stir until fizzy.
  5. Pour contents in pan into the bowl with dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Shape dough into balls and flatten with a fork on a tray.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 4 dozen biscuits.



  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • Pinch of salt

For icing:

  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • Shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs.
  3. Slowly add baking powder, baking soda, flour, milk, and salt.
  4. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square cake pan and bake for about 45 minutes.
  5. Let cool and store overnight in a sealed container.
  6. Make icing: Measure confectioners' sugar and cocoa into a large mixing bowl.
  7. Heat milk and 2 teaspoons butter until the butter is melted. Add the milk gradually to the sugar mixture, stirring constantly. The icing should be fluid but not too runny.
  8. Cut the cooled cake into 2-inch squares, and put the coconut into a shallow baking dish. Have ready a cooling rack set over a sheet of waxed paper to catch icing drips.
  9. Holding a cake square with two forks, dip it into the icing, and then roll in the coconut. Transfer to rack to dry. Repeat until all cake square are coated.

Serves 16.

A Biscuit for a Treat?

Australians, like the English, call cookies "biscuits." They often use the nickname "bickies" or "bikkies" especially when offering a biscuit to a child (or even when offering a treat to a pet). Every household has a biscuit tin, a decorative round tin with a lid, to keep the supply of biscuits handy.


Most Australians spend holidays with family, participating in special events and preparing a festive meal. Since the temperatures are mild, meals are often consumed outdoors at a picnic or on the beach. Because Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are the opposite of those in North America and Europe. Christmas falls in the middle of summer, when most school children are on their summer vacation. A typical Christmas menu may include a variety of hot and cold meats, seafood, pasta, salads, and many types of desserts. Mince pies, fruitcake, shortbread, and plum pudding are also popular after-dinner treats.

Christmas puddings may contain a small favor baked inside. It is said that the person who finds the favor will be blessed with good luck.

Easter is also widely celebrated in Australia. A traditional menu consists of roast lamb, beef, or chicken with roasted vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, peas, or broccoli. Seafood, lasagna, and salads are also favorites. Pavlova, an elegant dessert made of egg whites and sugar and garnished with fruit, is a popular Easter dessert. Most children prefer candy, and chocolate eggs are Easter favorites. Treats are often shaped like an Easter bilby, an endangered Australian mammal that resembles the North American Easter bunny.

Christmas Shortbread


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cups butter, cubed
  • cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rice flour (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Grease two cookie sheets.
  3. Mix flour, sugar, and rice flour in a bowl.
  4. Add the butter by rubbing in with fingertips.
  5. Press mixture together to form a dough ball.
  6. Place dough on a lightly floured surface.
  7. Knead gently.
  8. Divide dough in half, placing one rounded, ½-inch thick piece on each cookie sheet.
  9. Gently mark out eight equal portions on each piece, radiating from the center.
  10. Prick dough with a fork.
  11. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  12. Allow the shortbread to cool and store in an airtight container.



  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (corn flour)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup castor sugar (finer than regular sugar, but regular sugar may be substituted)
  • Whipping cream or whipped topping
  • Strawberries and kiwi for topping (other fruits or berries may be substituted)


  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with cooking parchment.
  3. In a very clean and dry bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  4. Slowly add sugar, sprinkling it into the bowl one spoonful at a time while continuing to beat the mixture until all the sugar has been added.
  5. Sprinkle in the pinch of salt, and then slowly add the vinegar and vanilla, a few drops at a time. Finally, beat in the cornstarch.
  6. Continue beating until the mixture stands in stiff peaks.
  7. Place mixture onto the center of the paper on tray, and spread it into a circle about 8 or 9 inches in diameter (20 to 22 centimeters).
  8. Make a slight indentation in the center.
  9. Place the cookie sheet on the center rack in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Do not open the oven door while the pavlova is baking.
  10. Leave pavlova in the oven to cool.
  11. When completely cool, peel off the paper and place the pavlova on a serving plate.
  12. Whip the heavy whipping cream with a teaspoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla.
  13. Spread the pavlova with whipped cream and sliced fruit (kiwi and strawberries are traditional).
  14. Slice and serve.

Quick No-Cook Mini-Pavlova

While not authentic, this recipe will produce a dessert that resembles pavlova.


  • 6 meringue shells
  • Whipped topping
  • Strawberries and kiwi, sliced


  1. Place meringue shells on a serving tray.
  2. Fill each with a generous dollop of whipped topping.
  3. Cover with sliced strawberries and kiwi.

Serves 6.


Australians traditionally spent hours in the kitchen preparing meals for family and friends. The introduction of microwave cooking helped to speed the cooking process for busy Australian families, and also helped keep their kitchens cooler. As of 2000, nearly half of all households owned a microwave oven.

Australians eat three meals each day and enjoy an afternoon break for "tea and biscuits." Breakfast is normally eaten between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Lunch is increasingly being bought on the go as fast food. Australians' afternoon "tea and biscuits," served around 4 p.m., is usually composed of tea (or other beverage) accompanied by biscuits (cookies), small sandwiches, scones, or cakes. For school children, afternoon tea is the after-school snack. Dinner, the largest meal of the day, is served around 6 p.m. and is traditionally eaten European style, with the fork in the left hand and the tines pointing down, and the knife in the right.

Children normally enjoy snacks during the day, such as fruit, a beverage, or a small sandwich. Milo, similar to instant hot chocolate mix, is often used as an ingredient in snacks or drunk alone. Lamingtons, Chocolate Crackles (similar to crispy rice cereal treats in North America), ANZAC biscuits, or just a simple fruit salad, are also popular among children.

Restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisines for those who prefer to eat out. They often offer seafood and meats that are not normally prepared at home, such as stingray and emu (similar to the ostrich). Cafes offer lunch and afternoon tea and serve as meeting places. Such places also offer a variety of beverages. Coffee is growing in popularity, although tea is preferred in the afternoon and on Sundays, a traditional day for visiting with family and friends.

Chocolate Crackles


  • 4 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening or margarine
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa


  1. Melt the shortening in a large saucepan over low heat or in a microwave oven.
  2. Add crispy rice cereal, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa to the saucepan.
  3. Spoon mixture into paper cupcake holders.
  4. Chill for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Makes 24 treats.

Toast with Vegemite or Milo Spread


  • Toast
  • Vegemite (available at some supermarkets)
  • Milo spread
  • Milo Spread
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • ½ cup hot chocolate mix


  1. Toast 4 slices of bread.
  2. Spread 2 slices with Vegemite spread.
  3. Spread 2 slices with Milo spread.
  4. Cut toast into triangles and serve with milk or juice as a snack. May be eaten as a light breakfast or after-school snack.

Milo Spread

  1. To prepare Milo spread, combine butter or margarine and powdered hot chocolate mix in a bowl.
  2. Beat the mixture until well combined.
  3. Store the Milo mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator.


Beginning in the 1980s, Australian adults (like adults in many developed countries) began to improve their eating habits, according to a 1995 Australian Bureau of Statistics study. Meat, a source of saturated fat, is being consumed less. Chicken and seafood are eaten more frequently. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are also consumed more often. There is, however, also an increase in the purchase and consumption outside of the home of foods and beverages that are generally higher in fat. Approximately 64 percent of men and nearly half of all women are overweight or obese.

The study included the diet of Australian children under the age of 15. It found that around one-third of children younger than 12 had no fruit in their diets, and more than one-fifth had no vegetables. The amount of sugar consumption, however, declined and vegetable consumption increased with age. The majority of children usually eat breakfast on five or more days per week, with 12- to 15-year-olds eating breakfast the least often.

Promoting healthy eating habits among children is an important issue in Australia. The government has allocated funding for community projects, mostly for the disadvantaged. Fresh and nutritious foods are often unavailable for children in rural and remote areas. Indigenous (native) groups, such as the Aborigines, frequently live in these disadvantaged areas.



Cook, Deanna. The Kids' Multicultural Cookbook. Vermont: Williamson Publishing, 1995.

Meisel, Jacqueline Drobis. Australia: The Land Down Under (Exploring Cultures of the World). New York: Benchmark Books, 1998.

Newman, Graeme and Betsy. Good Food from Australia: A Down Under Cookbook. New York: Hippocrene Books, Inc., 1997.

Pascoe, Elise. Australia the Beautiful Cookbook. San Francisco: Collins Publishers, 1995.

Web Sites

Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council. [Online] Available (accessed January 17, 2001).

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. [Online] Available (accessed January 15, 2001).

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. [Online] Available (accessed January 17, 2001).

Australian Tourist Commission. [Online] Available (accessed January 11, 2001).

BushLink: Inland Australia Online. [Online] Available (accessed January 17, 2001). [Online] Available (accessed January 10, 2001).

Food Law and Policy Australia. [Online] Available (accessed January 17, 2001).

Looksmart Australia. [Online] Available (accessed January 10, 2001).

Nutrition Australia. [Online] Available (accessed January 10, 2001).

Santa's Net. [Online] Available (accessed January 10, 2001).

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entremets French; originally a dish served between courses, now the dessert course. The first recipe for entremets (a boar's head) is attributed to Chiquart Amicco, chef to the Duke of Savoy, in 1420.

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entremets •gamay •lamé, Niamey •Aimée • animé • consommé • Lomé •résumé, resume •gourmet • entremets

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