10 Differences That Make Eating In Australia Confusing AF For Americans

G’day! There’s a lot of great reasons to visit Australia isn’t there? The wildlife, the people, the beaches, the laid back vibes and of course the fine chunk of Australian beef, Hugh Jackman (you’re welcome). But, when it comes to eating in Australia, there are a lot of things that will simply be confusing for our American neighbors, like the portion sizes for starters, which is why I made this list to help you avoid disappointment and confusion on your holiday down under. Some of these things I can relate to (but in reverse) when I think about the first time I visited America – wha

10 Differences that make Eating in Australia Confusing AF for Americans

Why is there ice-cream in your iced coffee? Check out this guide before planning your trip to Australia #travel

Image courtesy of Foodwatch

Chips and Fries

When the waiter asks if you would like chips and salad with your steak, say yes. In this context, when the term ‘chips’ is used they are referring to what Americans would call ‘fries’. A bag of potato chips, like what you would eat while watching a big game, are also called chips so you can see the confusion you might face. Also, hot chips & seafood on the beach is a quintessential thing to do so give it a try by getting some from any fish market near a beach like Sydney Fresh Seafood in Manly.

Eating in Australia

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Lemonade and Sprite

In America, there is a distinct difference between the term ‘lemonade’ and ‘Sprite’, however, in Australia, they are both called ‘lemonade’. Again, you can see the confusion for travelers. Additionaly, if you are at a restaurant and ask for a lemonade you will likely be served Sprite, because what Americans would call lemonade isn’t as common in Australia.

Biscuits and Cookies

Be prepared for some raised eyebrows if you ask for biscuits and gravy in Australia. In ‘Strayan speak asking for biscuits and gravy is like asking for a chocolate chip cookie and gravy and that’s just weird isn’t it? For Aussies, the term ‘biscuit’ refers to what Americans would call ‘cookies’, whereas ‘biscuits’ as Americans would know them, are closer to a scone or damper, which you won’t find at most restaurants served with dinner.

Sandwiches and Burgers

Down under there is a difference between a sandwich and a burger. A ‘sandwich’ is used when slices are bread, toasted or not, are used to encase the fillings. The classic steak sandwich, which is a must try by the way, is an example of this. A ‘burger’ is used when a bun is used to encase the fillings, for example a Big Mac.

Abbreviated everything

I’ll admit, this is confusing whether you are eating in Australia or just traveling around because Australians are known for their secondary slang language of simply shortening every word. Cup of coffee or tea to ‘cuppa’, McDonalds to ‘Maccas’, biscuit to ‘bikkie’ or breakfast to ‘breakky’. It’ll certainly keep you on your toes or just make the whole experience more confusing.

Eating in Australia

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Coriander and Cilantro

Looking for a little ‘cilantro’ to add to your meal? That’s what the Aussies call ‘coriander’. It’s also at the center of some hilarious memes for being the worst herb in the universe. There are even Facebook pages to bring people together against this vile tasting garnish – check out the ‘I hate coriander’ page for a laugh.

Entree, Appetizer, Main

In Australia, an entree is the starter course. When a menu says entree think of things like potato skins, bruschetta or a blooming onion – which is not Australian dish by the way so don’t expect to see it anywhere. The main course is called just that or on a menu it might read ‘mains’ for short.

Capsicum and Pepper

While you are traveling in the great southern land you might see ‘capsicum’ listed as an ingredient on a menu and find yourself wondering what in the blue hell a capsicum is. It’s simple, a capsicum is what Americans would call a ‘bell pepper’ or ‘pepper’ for short. If you asked for pepper on your Subway sandwich you would probably just get pepper not the bell peppers you are actually asking for.

Weird & Wonderful Foods

You probably know the Kangaroo as a beloved and internationally recognized Aussie icon, but you may not know that it tastes great with cranberry sauce! You might not see the weird and wonderful foods such as Crocodile, Emu, Camel or Kangaroo everywhere while you are out and about eating in Australia, but if you do see weird options like here at the Australian Heritage Hotel in Sydney, why not let your tastebuds have a workout & give it a shot!

Iced Coffee and Coffee on Ice

When you go to a cafe in Australia and order an ‘iced coffee’, it’s quite a decadent drink. You will get a parfait glass with a shot of coffee, scoop of ice cream, milk and whipped cream topped with chocolate powder. This one was a big shock for me when I moved to America, because ordering an ‘iced coffee’ in America literally means ordering a coffee on ice. If you want to try a good one, get one from The Coffee Club which is like a Starbucks equivalent so you should be able to find one no matter which state you visit.

Eating in Australia

Image courtesy of The Coffee Club

Have you had a funny or confusing dining experience while traveling? 

21 Comments

  • GlobalMary March 28, 2017 at 10:14 am

    So interesting! I must admit, for me as a not native English speaker it’s hilarious too. I guess I was aware of some of the things you are writing about, because I am leaving in Europe and using British English mostly, but some other things, like ‘capsicum’ for pepper was something I had no idea about!
    Funny fact: Germans have the same thing in different regions in ONE COUNTRY! 😀

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Hi Mary! Yeah, we have a lot of similarities with Britain so if you visit Aus it should be a smooth transition. I had no idea about Germany though, must make it confusing and fun for visitors and maybe even for locals too!

      Reply
  • Thelittlelai: Beyond limits March 29, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Wow, I didn’t know about all these things not until I’ve read this blog. Anyway, I’m a bit not familiar and won’t be confused about all these, since I’m no American and Australian, but this is a big help, since what we usually use in the Philippines is American English. I truly enjoy what you have written here, very entertaining and interesting as well.

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Sandy N Vyjay March 29, 2017 at 3:16 am

    This is hilarious. I have heard so much about the aussie slang. Yet for us Indians we are quite familiar with the American and Australian terms. Cilantro and coriander, capsicum and bell pepper or chips and fries, I would atleast not be confused in these!

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Thanks Sandy! There’s so much slang in Aussie English, it’s like a sublanguage! Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

      Reply
  • Candy March 29, 2017 at 5:01 am

    O wow! So many differences!!! The one that caught my attention was the ‘lemonade’ and ‘Sprite’ one. So confusing! This is a great list for when I make that visit to Australia 🙂

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 10:00 am

      So confusing for me too when I went to America and ordered a lemonade haha!

      Reply
  • Christina March 29, 2017 at 5:02 am

    This is funny! Now I know what a cilantro is. Isn’t there a difference between a sandwich and a burger in the USA?

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Thanks Christina! I’ve heard so many people use the term sandwich for burgers in the USA which confused me when I moved.

      Reply
  • Reshma Narasing March 29, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    This is so funny! I loved the way you have described the differences. Somehow having met many Australians and Americans now, I know what some are called in both countries. So I can put to use when I am there!

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Thanks Reshma! You would be the ultimate translator 🙂

      Reply
  • Shane Prather March 29, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Ah this makes me so nostalgic! I lived in Sydney for 2 years after graduating and all these tripped me up. Love quirks of new countries.

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Thanks Shane! Me too, it’s all of these new little things that make it fun!

      Reply
  • Natasha March 29, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    This post is amazing and so funny! When I visited Australia I noticed the funny abbreviations when talking with new friends. It’s so interesting to me how many differences there are! 🙂

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 10:10 am

      Thanks Natasha! So many differences right? It must’ve been so interesting to hear them all and wonder wtf it all meant!

      Reply
  • Paige Wunder March 30, 2017 at 2:41 am

    Too funny! Some of these are differences that they share with the UK as well, like chips + biscuits. I wouldn’t call a burger a sandwich in the US though. That one made sense to me. I think if I asked for an iced coffee and got that delicious-sounding treat I would be surprised, but also delighted!

    Reply
  • Izzy March 30, 2017 at 6:13 am

    Haha! I love this little culinary decorder, all of that just confused the heck out of me as an American. One of my close friends is an Aussie and I’ve noticed we have a number of linguistic misunderstandings even though we both speak English. Biscuits as cookies versus flaky buttery scones? Get outta here! 😛 You need to make a pin for this so I can share it!

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 7, 2017 at 10:10 am

      Thanks for the good idea Izzy!

      Reply
  • Moonsparkle (ZM) April 20, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I enjoyed the post. I’m from the UK and most of it is similar to here, except we call potato chips “crisps”. I might get a bit confused by the chips but could probably tell by context or if they’re called “hot chips”. 🙂 IAlso we tend to think of lemonade and Sprite as different.

    The iced coffee sounds delicious! If I visit Australia one day I’m going to try one of those. 🙂

    Reply
    • Katie Mac April 25, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks so much! That’s a good idea, I should just say hot chips from now on. I hope you get to try an Aussie iced coffee when you visit 🙂

      Reply

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