One often-quoted statistic which reveals just how many immigrants from Mediterranean have made Australia their home is that Melbourne has the biggest population of Greek origin anywhere in the world, including Greece.
The immigration of hundreds of thousands of Mediterraneans – primarily Italians, Greeks and Lebanese – has had a profound impact on the cuisine of Australia, yet the changes in mainstream eating patterns happened only relatively recently.
As far back as the 1880s small numbers of immigrants from Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Malta and Spain began arriving. In 1947, acknowledging the country’s severe manpower shortage, the government decided that more immigrants were needed if Australia was to reach its full potential. But it was necessary to include immigrants from Poland, Holland, Latvia, Estonia, Australia, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Romania.
Today, pizza and pasta are very much part of the Australian diet, as are Lebanese / Syrian tabouli and hommus , Greek tzatziki and taramasalata. There are olives galore, and sun-dried tomatoes became so popular in the mid 1980s that imports are now competing with Australian-made products, along with sun-dried capsicums.
Italian and Greek breads including focaccia are now rapidly available – a vast change from the colonial bush bread or damper – and Lebanese pocket or pita breads are also firmly entrenched