Dear waiter: Can I have a plate with my meal please? Just a plate. Preferably a round one. Definitely not square, and i’d rather not a ridiculously thin rectangular one. Just a plain old plate. Actually, it could be patterned. I’m okay with that. Flowered or flecked with colour is fine, too. It could have a deep rim, a dimpled rim, or be more of a shallow bowl kind of thing. I really don’t mind. It could be made of bone china, chunky ceramics, be hand-crafted, or mass produced. But i’d like to have a plate, please.
Not a small chopping board, or rustic piece of wood. It’s no longer trendy; time to find another bandwagon to jump on. That piece of slate you served my steak on recently was just plain wrong. The steak knife that you kindly supplied (many restaurants don’t bother, I know) scraped across that piece of slate like finger nails on a blackboard. And I could have turned a blind eye to the faux baking tray you served my burger and chips on last week, if you hadn’t also used it to serve the paella.
I like the concept of serving certain dishes in the paraphernalia they’re cooked in: ochre coloured terracotta bowls for tapas, garlic prawns served sizzling in a small pan, stainless steel ‘balti’ bowls for curries — as long as plates are provided to eat from. But since when was paella made on a baking tray? Plus, that tacky piece of tin had no grip and spun annoyingly on the table top every time food was extracted from it. Stop trying to be trendy. You’re mostly just behind the times. Just give me a plate, please. Any old plate will do.
Eating at the work desk is fraught with difficulty (iPhoto)
Not long before I left my last job I was at my desk eating a Crunchie — you know, one of those Cadbury chocolate-covered honeycomb bars — quite noisily, it turned out. The boss stood up, peered over the partition between the ‘hot desks’ we occupied, muttered something about eating (I can’t remember what, exactly) and smiled in a not really smiling kind of way. I was sufficiently chastised to suck the rest of that Crunchie, which was aptly named by the marketing geniuses at Cadbury, I have to say.
The next day, sitting at the same hot desk, I was eating a bag of crisps — you know, those extra-crispy Kettle Chip kind — quite noisily, it turned out. The boss stood up, peered at me over our partition and said: “Oh, you again!” I was mortified. Not once, but twice i’d been ousted by the boss — of all people — for my inelegant office eating habits. Continue reading
January was a month of shorts and summer tops, barefootedness and cold beers, and an ever-advancing beer o’clock. I kicked off the month reading White Truffles in Winter by N.M.Kelby and ended it with a cracker of an Australia Day feast with friends in our sun-filled back garden.
In between there was lots of cooking — Thai and Indian dishes in particular, which seemed in keeping with the hot, dry, parched Sydney summer. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Replenishing springtime’s seed trays
Sydney’s summer-taunted springtime is playing havoc with the veggie patch. Parsley, which typically provides a steady supply throughout summer, is already growing like a weed and most of it has bolted; spring onions, which usually grow slowly skywards for weeks, are shooting fast and quickly going to seed; small, tender salad leaves have sudden growth spurts then turn bitter and bossy — crowding out all else around them; and seed trays — planted with a plethora of precious jewels — are relinquishing the fight to the heat and dryness and yielding nothing but the occasional weed. Seedlings that do survive are petulant and thirsty and, frankly, downright hard work.
Facing a one-day weekend (i’m working Sunday and my partner is away) on the tail-end of a tumultuous (and occasionally torturous) week, and confronting a difficult decision for which i don’t have an answer, i contemplated giving the morning the eye mask, ear plug, and head under the pillow treatment, rising only when I felt fit and fully rested. But with a cat and a couple of loads of laundry demanding attention i roused myself relatively early and got on with lonely one-day weekend life. It was the best thing i could have done: in fact, the most therapeutic. Continue reading