Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Australia - Better Late than Never

Australia was a whirlwind of experiences, sounds, sights and tastes. From the all-too-familiar urban landscapes of Sydney to the sprawling red landscape of Melboune, I spent 12 days travelling in and around the urban areas of southeast Australia trying to understand just what is Australia? Why do I have preconceived notions about its history as a convict repository? Why do I think that everyone owns a "barbie" and only grills shrimp? How do the locals REALLY feel about Crocodile Dundee and Hugh Jackman?

After spending much time drinking, eating and talking my way around Australia, I found myself not only fulfilled as a culinary - but as a social ambassador. These are excerpts from my letters home.

I hope you can make the trip yourself soon. Enjoy!


Sydney has been a whirlwind of experience. I feel as though there have been several realizations regarding our perception (or misconceptions) of this continent. One thing I would encourage you to do if you visit here is spend some serious (sober and not) time observing and interviewing the locals for conclusions about their culture. What do they like, what are they embarrassed of, how do they receive you, especially as a black woman who might be mistaken for slight Aboriginal heritage. All these are questions and topics on my mind as I wander these streets, and I have sought answers wherever I've been.

Regarding food, Sydney has been good. Given our limited time, we haven't gotten around to diving deeply into the local stereotypes (like kangaroo or emu meats), but I feel that will happen eventually. What I can note is the relative freshness of ingredients, particularly the seafood for obvious reasons. One convo I had with a stewardess seemed to confirm that Aussies have a palate less inclined to flavor assault, as ours is, and as such, the flavor profile is much more nuanced. I have found an appreciation for the multiple uses for pineapple and other fruits in savory cooking that Aussies have managed to find.


Melbourne is a red, wide and hot town. The first thing I noticed upon arrival in the actual city is the green life. My thought was that Sydney was lush and rich with flora, but that perspective changed here. I feel reminiscent of my former exploits in bohemian life (the boy scouting, the raving, the beach bumming, etc), as the people again are some of the most friendly and intelligent, but also more obviously, some of the most laissez-faire. A short saunter down the boardwalk will make this clearer. The stars come out here - a mere glance to the sky reveals more heavenly bodies than Bondi, with clear visibility of Venus, Orion's belt, and other constellations. I can only fantasize about what the sky in more remote locations can offer.

The food is all so fresh and thoughtful, that I am excited in every opportunity to eat here as my anticipation grows more and more each meal. Kangaroo, as I have had it (homemade) is slightly less tough than beef, and sweet like a roast-fatty and succulent. So far we have tried meat pies, variations of yogurt dips, the FRESHEST fruit, and the best home cooked meals.

The home cooked meals genuinely symbolize the welcoming spirit of Melbourne. I have yet to eat out while here, because my family and our friends alike have opened their hearts and homes to give us food and love. This place has such an open, warm spirit that rekindles my bohemian soul and reminds me of the struggle I have between my over achievement and laziness.

And in true Aussie spirit, I realized I began, and ended, my two week journey with fish and chips. Adieu Australia. Until we meet again!

- The UE

1 comment:

Courtney said...

We should so travel together, the food would be ridiculous.

Although, I might kill you by the end of it :)