Kangaroo – for hot, ballerina – for dessert
About Australian cuisine, everyone strives to say some nasty things. “There is no kitchen in Australia!” – the most common option. “This is the same English, only with sand on its teeth,” – this version is also found, but less often. There is no kitchen, and thank God, I tell you. Australian food is pleasing just in its simplicity – just like the Australians themselves. Nowhere did I eat such delicate chops, such unobtrusively prepared vegetables and such luxurious oysters. Fish, meat, vegetables and seafood, all in their pure form, not spoiled by the tedious processing that clogs the taste of food. Not without ridiculous specialties. Moreover, I hunted for them.
“Ve-ge-mite,” girlfriend Alina dictated to me by syllables on the eve of my departure to Australia, “do not worry, it is sold everywhere, it’s their national food! It’s terribly delicious!” Alina spent the whole summer in an American pioneer camp, where every morning, together with her Australian neighbor, she used this vegemite with peanut butter and bread, and now she misses her very much. “Vegemite?” The very first Australians laughed, whom I asked about this outlandish delicacy. “This is terrible muck – concentrated yeast! Nobody eats it here.” The Australians, however, were not quite real, but who arrived ten years ago from Odessa. But even more aboriginal people frowned and explained that this Australian specialty is mainly of interest to tourists who transport it in brown jars to different countries. “And do you have something else tasty?” I insisted. The Australians were embarrassed and said that the kitchen is somehow not their hobby. “God, who am I talking to!” I thought. “These are men! What can they know about the kitchen?”
She was a real Australian: fiery red, freckled and mocking. She showed us the sights, took us to restaurants and after the third glass of wine, between the lamb chop and dessert, she asked: “Do you have single friends? Still, Australian men are terrible nerds. And Russians? Tell me about them.” She had the most Australian name – Fiona. That was the name of my beloved heroine from the book “Singing in Blackthorn”, over which I, all my friends, my mother, my mother’s friends and thousands more women cried. Book Fiona spent most of her life in the kitchen, with aristocratic dignity, frying lamb and potatoes for her many sons. Who, if not the living Fiona, will tell me the whole truth about Australian cuisine? And Fiona talked about “meat and three vegetables”, and the words “three vegetables” sounded especially tragic to her. Here is her story. “When I was little, we lived on a farm, raised sheep, and we had our own garden. Mom always cooked the same thing: meat and three vegetables. Every day we ate lamb with potatoes, carrots and pumpkins. Can you imagine how Do I hate them? And so the whole country eats, “Fiona concluded sadly, washing down the lamb ribs with Australian wine (by the way, it’s quite not bad and is now in great fashion). I listened, and I imagined the yellow-green fields of Droheda, on which herds of sheep grazed, a rose garden in front of the house and a red-hot kitchen, which smells of meat … Everything is like Colin McCullough’s.
“Ah! How could I forget! My mother was still cooking Australian pie!” Fiona suddenly remembered. “A large pie that has meat and potatoes inside. Or fish. Do you want to try it? I don’t recommend it – it’s completely tasteless.” But I, of course, did not obey and tried. Very edible and especially nutritious.
Kangaroos & pavlova
“I know what you need,” said Oleg, an absolute Muscovite who has spent six months on business in Australia. “Get ready, go to the Sydney Tower.” I saw this tower only on postcards or from afar, because as soon as you find yourself at its foot, it ceases to be a tower and turns into a regular store-office building in the city center. Near the elevator we were greeted by a polite but strict guard: “Have you booked a table? Otherwise, alas, I can’t let you into the elevator.” It turned out that the restaurant we go to is very popular among foreigners, and you just won’t get there. Like our “Seventh Heaven”, only the floor is opaque. You eat and quietly rotates around its axis, so that during the meal you can see all the beauty of Sydney.
“Well, choose it,” Oleg pointed to the buffet with a masterful gesture, because he needs to chase after everything is spinning. “Here is seafood, there are fish dishes, here are vegetables, these are soups. But the most important thing here, “- and Oleg drags me by the hand to a huge pan with meat. A friendly waiter points to meat and, with the intonation of a guide, explains: “Is there a kangaroo, an ostrich emu, a camel, a crocodile. Are you tempted or with blood?”
Well what was to be done? Yes, I ate them. And the kangaroo, and emu, and someone else tasty. The kangaroo meat is tender (contrary to the assumptions of some that it should be sinewy, since the kangaroos run a lot, it’s just some kind of special piece that does not participate in the run), and the ostrich is juicy. In my defense, I can say that a kangaroo in Australia is not like a kangaroo in Moscow. We have them small, defenseless and in the zoo, and they have large, strong and run through the fields, jumping out onto the road and knocking cars. They say it is still unknown who is worse, a driver or a kangaroo. They also say that farmers are even paid extra if they surrender a shot kangaroo. And also, that the kangaroo, sensing danger, throw their children out of the pockets so that they do not interfere with their mother’s escape. Although what can I say, anyway, I’m sorry for the little animal.
And everything ended with Pavlova dessert – in honor of our ballerina, who once shocked the Australians so much that they immediately came up with some goodies based on the dance. Luxurious thing! Something like white and airy meringue type – romantic and dietary at the same time. In a word, nobody argues: Australia is not France and not even Russia. It seems to me that the “Australian restaurant” beyond is nonsense. Yes, and he does not need, as it seems to me again. Australian food is so direct and, with rare exceptions, sweet in its homeland that nothing more is required of it. And the Australians don’t complex: they go to Japanese, Chinese, Indian and other restaurants (which are absolutely authentic there) and enjoy life.