How row over mashed avocado toast is dividing Australian generations

Mashed - or smashed - avocado on toastImage source, Thinkstock
Image caption,
Are you throwing away your future nest egg on fancy brunches?

Millennials - give up your smashing avocado toast brunches and buy a house instead.

That's the message coming from Australia this week, leaving young people on social media outraged, and those who are a little more seasoned in years scratching their heads.

A column at the weekend for The Australian newspaper by "baby boomer" columnist Bernard Salt contained one paragraph asking why young people today spend their cash on fancy breakfast rather than saving for a property.

"I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more," Mr Salt wrote.

"I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn't they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house."

The implication - that young people should save for a house instead of enjoying the same luxuries the author does - was met with much derision in Australia, where house prices have rocketed in recent years.

Mockery erupted on social media over the mathematics, which suggest you could stop a weekly brunch for well over a century and still not quite reach your savings goal.

Professional media organisations weighed in, with an opinion piece in the prestigious Sydney Morning Herald calling for "smashed avo toast" to be made the national dish.

Comedian Deirdre Fidge, writing for SBS, decided to share her "life story", titled "I Stopped Eating Smashed Avocado And Now I Own A Castle".

But the comic reaction masked a concern by some that young people simply can't access the housing market no matter how much they save - so are spending their cash on enjoying life instead.

"What do you do when you can't afford to buy somewhere to live? Well, you decide to live," Bridget Delaney wrote in The Guardian.

"Brunch is the opiate of the masses. We are not going out for brunch instead of buying houses: we are brunching because we cannot afford to buy houses."

Australian foodie magazine Broadsheet - which is naturally at the centre of the smashed avocado circle - argued that cafes have become a social hub for millennials, whose friends are spread far and wide.

But they've gone one step further - collaborating with some of their favourite cafes to launch "home savers" specials to several menus this week - at about A$11 each.