Morno — it’s my all-time favourite Aussie-ism and just so happens to be food-related. It’s the abbreviation of morning tea, armed with the suffix ‘o’ — which is an endearing Aussie trait. It’s often referred to in the plural —mornos — and is a word tossed about a lot in blue-collar industries, where workers down tools mid-morning to refuel. I love the word. It’s just so adorably Aussie, as is the practice of shortening a word then adding the suffix ’ie’ — think veggie (vegetable), cozzie (swimming costume), sickie (day off work, sick). Sometimes the ‘o’ and ‘ie’ are interchangeable — think rellie/rello (relative).
As an Australian who grew up in England and returned to Oz in early adulthood, I find Aussie-isms — Australian slang or colloquial expressions — particularly beguiling. I especially love food-related ones. Here’s a few.
You wouldn’t have mornos in the arvo, but you would have it some time after brekkie. It comprises some light tucker: a couple of bickies, perhaps, crackers smeared with avo is a personal favourite, or a sanga with roast chook and a little mayo if you’re particularly hungry — and unless, of course, you’re a veggo.
Mornos shouldn’t be confused with a smoko, which refers more specifically to a cigarette break. And a barbie is in an altogether different league. There you’d have snags, for sure and you’d need to stop by the bottle-o first so you could BYO alcohol — perhaps a couple of stubbies, tinnies, or coldies. If it’s a fair dinkum Aussie barbie, you might be asked to bring a plate, and there will almost certainly be a pav, but don’t carry on like a pork chop if there isn’t. If you’re not into grog, feel free to boil the billy.
Whatever the occasion, stick the grub in your cake hole and, fingers crossed, it’ll be grouse.
What’s your favourite food-related Aussie-ism?
Boil the billy: put the kettle on
Bottle-o: bottle shop/liquor shop
Bring a plate: bring a food contribution
BYO: Bring your own
Cake hole: mouth
Carry on like a pork chop: behave stupidly
Chook: a chicken
Coldie: a cold beer
Fair dinkum: true, genuine
Grouse: very good
Morno/s: morning tea break
Smoko: smoke or coffee break
Stubbie: 375ml bottle of beer
Tinnie: can of beer