Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Things that I like, and things that I don't like

Thing that I like #1: Vegemite
Oh, Vegemite. Aussie comfort food. I tried this a few weeks back and surprisingly didn’t barf, so that must mean that I like it.

It tastes like condensed soy-sauce flavored beer. I like soy sauce, and I like beer. Vegemite. Silly Aussies.

If you want to get a glimpse of just how strongly Aussie’s identify with this crazy concoction, click here. Or, here. Or even here, if you dare.

Thing that I don’t like #1: Vegemite
Okay, let’s be honest. I’m pretty culturally sensitive but Vegemite tastes like condensed soy-sauce flavored beer. Eeewww. If you want to make Vegemite at home, I have devised this simple method. Take two gallons of soy sauce and two gallons of Budweiser. Pour them into a large stockpot and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10 hours until liquid is reduced to half a cup and mixture resembles thick, poo-colored tar. Taste and adjust seasonings. Allow to cool completely, then store in jars. No need to refrigerate. To serve, stick your finger in the jar, lick your finger, make a nasty icky face, then throw away remaining contents of jar. (Note: many Australians omit this last step)

Thing that I like #2: Spanish tapas
How can anyone say no to potatoes and onions boiled in olive oil and bound together with fresh eggs, aka Spanish tortilla? With a side of roasted peppers and homemade chorizo sausage? Yeah, I’ll take some of that.

Thing that I don’t like #2: the Spanish restaurant down the street
Not going to mention any names, ahem, because my mom taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The menu at “El Restaurante Espanol” had the expected Spanish tapas offerings. We ordered gambas al ajillo, croquetas with Manchego cheese, bunuelos de bacalao (salt cod fritters), chorizo a la plancha, patatas bravas.

They were all passable, yet under-seasoned. While I’ve come to accept limp service in most Australian restaurants, I was shocked by the rudeness of our waiter. After hearing our non-Australian accents he treated us condescendingly and seemed more interested in shooing us out the door than allowing us to order more food or wine which we were going to PAY FOR. With MONEY. At his RESTAURANT. I mean, isn’t that the point of the whole operation? I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something. Oh! And the funniest part! I wasn’t thrilled about any of their sickeningly sweet sounding sangria-ish options, and they didn't have a good Spanish wine on offer, so I asked for a dirty vodka martini with extra olives. And the waiter said, “What’s that? Could you tell me what’s in it and I’ll see if the bartender can make it?” UUUMMMMMMMM. Yeah, sure, it has VODKA. And OLIVES. And you know, I don’t even care about the vermouth at this point, I’ll just take a cup of room temperature vodka with some olives floating in it. I’m gonna NEED it if the night keeps going in this direction!

However, I must say that a main reason I love going out to eat is to spend time with my friends and enjoy myself. I tried not to dwell on the service… and had a fab night out with the girls. I think next time I'm craving Spanish, though, I'll make my tortilla at home and invite the gals over...

Thing that I like #3: Community gardens
How can you diss a community coming together to grow healthy veggies and fruits? Macadamias and persimmons and citrus and peppers and fennel and herbs?

Thing that I don’t like #4: Chook poo
I’m not really sure, but I think part of a community garden might be fertilizing, and I think part of fertilizing might be picking up a sack of chook poo down the street and then spreading the chook poo on your veggie patch without gagging and making a fool of yourself in front of your neighbors. Not sure if I’m that strong of a person, but if I were, I’d know where to pick me up some quality poo.

Thing that I like #5: Amazing food
DUH! I love that amazing food doesn’t have to be expensive or pretentious to rock your world. I can get down with a late night basket of fries topped with gyros meat, ketchup, garlic sauce, and chili sauce, or as I call them, “fries with gop on top.” YUM.

Or I can appreciate the pristine local veggies in the fridge of a local restaurant… accented by the chef’s surfboard which he utilizes every day before dinner service. How much more Aussie can you get, mate?

I also love cookbooks that teach me how to make amazing food, like spicy Indian curries and Mediterranean-inspired dishes with Aussie olive oil, and I love friends who give me those cookbooks for my birthday. Thanks, Jackie!

Thing that I don’t like #5: Dirty nasty kitchens
Unfortunately, Phil lives in an apartment with a dirty, nasty kitchen. There is no possible way that amazing food (see thing that I like #5) can be produced in such an environment. Poor Phil. No wonder he eats out every day, three meals a day. He said it wasn’t that bad the day I took this photo. Oh dear.

Thing that I like #6: Fun and tasty beverages with loads of caffeine
Mate, anyone? I am the Mate Converter. That should be my superhero name. I fell deeply in love with mate when I lived in Argentina eight years ago, and lug a huge two pound bag of it with me whenever I move to a new place. I love the sociality of the drink, the caffeine punch that keeps me alert, the strong and bitter earthy flavor… I love that it looks like you're doing some weird exotic drug, but it's totally legal and won't kill you and send you insane. But I must admit that mate is an acquired taste. Leena and Meagan appear to be enjoying themselves, but they just wanted to look cute for the photo. They didn’t actually ingest any mate here, and kind of made a bitter beer face as soon as the shutter clicked.

Meagan didn't even touch her lips to the bombilla, hehehe. Poser!

Love it love it love it!

Thing that I don’t like #6: Gross beverages with loads of alcohol
I do NOT recommend Japanese umeshu (plum wine). Is the pickled plum supposed to make it look more appealing? Not sure. But it doesn’t work. Sorry, Japan, I’m not a fan of your alcoholic beverages, I mean, sake? Asahi? Umeshu? Whisky? You can do better than that.


Anonymous said...

I love american food, I love american food, I love american food. Did I say I love american food?

Anonymous said...

Man, I miss you lady. Why don't you fly your ladies out to Chicago and eat some quality tapas made by me?

Oh, and by the by, Mate = vomit-e

I'm just saying.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! This site is awesome! Totally with you on the vegemite and mate... and everything else. Looks like your living it up, I wouldn't expect anything less!

Anonymous said...

Vegemite would make a great Potter family gift. Or Sullivan family gift. I have wanted to try it since 1983 and the Aussie faves Men At Work had a hit with "Vegemite Sandwich".

Anonymous said...

Did you drink the Umeshu warm? You are supposed to chill it. Besides, that isn't a good brand, there are better out there. It's good if you mix it with ice and soda water. Also, if you go to Japan, drinking sake it like wine - there are hundreds of varieties from super dry to super sweet.

Cari said...

I'm totally with you on chilling the umeshu. But, honestly it's just not to my liking even chilled! One of my students in Japan brought me some homemade umeshu that was pretty nasty and very cloudy - I think it may have spoiled me on it forever. I lived in Japan for a year and, try as I might, I just never found a sake that I liked that I could afford on a regular basis. I think that was probably the key - I had some good stuff, but it was way out of my price range. I'm embarrassed to say that I drank more than my fair share of canned chuhai. And I still get a hankering for it every now and then:)


i am hungry now

miam miam

The Collector said...

Hi Cari, I've finally managed to better answer your question on my blogspot. Check it out! xx

Ps I totally agree with you re the vegimite - ergh!

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Ido said...

Ever tried shochu? It's a little like vodka.