Australians have some colourful terms to describe our favourite snacks.
From pavlovas to lamingtons to snags, food words feature prominently in the lexicon of Australian English.
Over the years, the team at the Australian National Dictionary Centre has collected many gastronomical gems as part of its research for the next edition of the dictionary, including halal snack pack, bum nut (egg), chicken salt, djarduk (red apple) and finger bun, but we thought it likely there would be others out there. That’s why this year we asked for food-related words as part of our annual appeal.
The contributions from the public confirmed the popularity of bum nut — everyone seemed to know the expression, which we have since traced back to 1986. We also discovered some new words for eggs including butt nugget, fart cartridge and pre-nugget.
Interestingly, we received a surprising amount of rhyming slang. While we were familiar with dog’s eye and dead horse for meat pie and sauce, we collected black horse for Worcestershire sauce, Harold Holt for salt, Greg Chappell for apple, dad and mum for rum, and dark and nasty for pasty. There were also plays on pronunciation, such as horse’s doover for hors d’oeuvre, chicken in pyjamas for chicken parmigiana, and sparrow’s guts for asparagus.
But not all food slang is enticing — think snot block for vanilla slice. We received some vivid new terms in this unappetising category: dandruff cake for lamington, bachelor’s breakfast for meat pie, dead fly pie for fruit mince pie, blowfly slice for fruit mince slice, and fart fodder for baked beans.
Abbreviated forms, usually ending in ‘ie’ or ‘o’, are a common feature of Australian English. One new word in this vein was scrambo for scrambled eggs. Some terms are regional, hence the debate over parma, parmy and parmo. While we weren’t alerted to any other culinary controversies of this kind, we were reminded how invested people are in their preferred parmigiana term!
Other contributions to this year’s appeal included bush doughnut for a type of doughnut made while camping, Footscray dumpling for a supermarket-bought dim sim, poor man’s pizza for a slice of toast with tomato sauce put into the sandwich maker, and tucker trap for a restaurant.
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