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Australian markets sell kiwis, kangaroo steaks

In photo: A guide to preparing prawns (shrimp) is seen on display in a Sydney, Australia, market. (Caroline Lee/For The Daily Gazette)

When traveling to foreign lands, most people want to go sightseeing. I head to the supermarket. What tells you more about how people live than what they buy?

During my most recent visit to Sydney, Australia, I found plenty of products from the U.S. on the shelves, as I often do in markets in other countries, like Driscoll’s fresh strawberries and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. But why not? Add a bit to the price for airfare and food can go anywhere.

Coles Supermarkets in Sydney offered a few surprises. The one I visited in the city train station is compact but has most of what you’d expect to find in addition to food, including school supplies, magazines and newspapers, and health and beauty products.

A nice surprise was the range of Cadbury chocolate products. If you find anything with the iconic purple packaging, it’s worth picking up. Wouldn’t you try Cadbury’s baking chips? I also found Cadbury ice cream, hot cocoa mix and cake mix.

The meat packages are smaller, but with less waste. Many of the products are prepared and ready to cook, like kebabs and marinated steaks and salmon. I would buy the apricot-and-herb stuffed chicken breast if I could find it here, but not the kangaroo steaks. I liked the looks of the sirloin strip steaks with thick layers of fat around the edge.

I wasn’t surprised to see kiwi fruits reasonably priced. Blueberries, on the other hand, were the equivalent of about $3.50 for a half pint. There was a sale on mincemeat — ground beef — in packages of 1 kilo for five Australian dollars. That’s about $2.20 a pound.

The packaged baked goods included crumpets and boxes of Weight Watchers lemon cakes. Most pastries and cakes were in attractive cellophane packages as opposed to boxes. I liked the Thomas the Tank Engine iced roll cake.

Coles has an array of local offerings, such as their brand of frozen Australian blueberries and frozen pineapple sticks, easy-to-eat spirals of fresh pineapple individually wrapped.

Local fresh veggies are zucchini, field tomatoes and tamarillos. Tamarillos, also know as tree tomatoes, grow in karri forests in Western Australia and are oval-shaped with a glossy red or yellow skin. The September issue of the handsome Cole’s magazine shows what you can do with them: star-anise poached tamarillos with waffles and marscapone, and sticky chili prawn (shrimp) and tamarillo stir-fry.

You can buy Cornish pasties — meat in pastry — at Coles, something you never see here. They looked pretty good, and the same company makes individual meat pies in small aluminum tins or larger pies for the whole family.

Husband Eric tries to wait outside. “You going to be long?” he asks. He always comes in anyway, asking “Are you almost done?” even when he knows I’m not. When I finally head to the checkout, he gives a sigh of relief.

Eric usually fills in the custom forms for re-entry into the U.S. and almost always lists Cadbury chocolate and Maldon’s sea salt. Sometimes we bring home the re-usable shopping bags for souvenirs to take to the market here.

I always learn something on my visits, about different ways to look at familiar products, or to consider trying things I’d never seen before. It’s my favorite part of any trip.

“In & Out of the Kitchen,” a wide-ranging column about cooking, eating and buying food, is written by Gazette staffers. You can reach us at

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