Strewth this Sheila’s fair dinkum!

For those of you who have no clue about the title, it translates as “Oh my, what a surprise, this lady’s honest”. Time has flown by since my last post, it’ll be Christmas before I know it. I believe that most of August and September has been spent integrating into Melbourne culture and adopting their customs but that doesn’t mean it comes easily. Here’s a few things that didn’t go so well with me and some further below that really did:

1) 50p: Australia why is your 50 pence coin so huge, you’ve got the same shape as the Brit one but why did you have to go super size it and make my hand look even smaller in comparison! It’s so chunky that you don’t need a knuckle duster next time you’re in trouble, put one of these between your fingers. (Disclaimer: I do not promote violence in any way or form)

2) Myki cards: These are Melbourne’s version of the Oyster cards used in London except there’s one massive glitch, the Myki card takes longer to scan at a terminal than an X-ray! I have lost precious minutes of my life waiting for it to let me pass, let alone getting hand cramp having to stick it to the screen the whole time that I need to top up, pay and collect my receipt. Come on guys, I don’t expect retinal scanning or fingerprint recognition, I am embracing the Myki but the world is my Oyster…card 😉

3) Babychino: So this is more of a misconception, are these chinos for babies? No, they’re cups of frothy posh milk for the lil ones, so much so that they’re on the kids’ menus (= snack menus), they start them young here!

4) Coffee: From Babychino to Adultchino or Coffee as they call it here.  Melbourne has some of the best coffee houses in the world, so much so that they fiercely resisted the spread of the corporate coffee germ Starbucks which only has a handful of branches here. This is great but one small problem, I don’t drink coffee, yes I know, what a shocker, it’s because I will be bouncing off the walls if I drink even half a cup. And also because I used to drink Starbucks’ white chocolate mochas with caramel syrup and if I order that here, they will spit on me. I have now resigned myself to appreciate coffee  simply by sniffing it.

5) Trams: And here’s me thinking this was only unique to Croydon in the Sauff of London, they are in fact a beloved treasure of Melbourne. I have been on a tram twice since coming to Melb, once to St Kilda beach and the other on the “colonial tram car” experience. Think of the Orient express train but a tram version for tourists with some yummy food and unlimited amount of alcohol, no you don’t get it with your Myki card! Both tram rides have been pleasant but you can guess which one I enjoyed more.

6) Footie: Now by footie I don’t mean soccer as they call it here, boo, hiss, soccer is not a real word, I’m talking about AFL footie! This is a vicious, fast paced but fun game combining proper football and rugby to create some crazy Australian sport. The players are as muscly as rugger buggers but have legs like football players and the height of basketball players. Imagine that! To prove that I’m all about integrating into the local community, I pledged my allegiance to the Richmond Tigers Footie team (no link to Tamil Tigers), got myself a beanie, guernsey and scarf and signed up for membership for 2014. The Tigers came very close this year so I’m sticking with them and Trent Cotchin, the Tigers’ poster boy and my new David Beckham, sorry David, I couldn’t handle the long distance anymore. The AFL grand final was last Saturday and the whole state tuned in to watch the Hawthorn “Hawks” win. Footie also has WAGs, I’ll leave it at that.

7) Wine: Massive perk about being in Melbourne is that they make and love their wine! We had some lovely friends over from London so we thought what better to do than go on a Yarra Valley Wine Tour and it was winetastic (cheesy I know but it goes well with wine ;-)) As long as you don’t get so drunk that you accidentally drink from the spit bucket, then you’re fine to learn about some posh tips about wine and champers like storing wine away from the cooker, stove, using a vinaerator which I am now a proud owner of.  Fun fact, did you know that there’s a person called a Riddler who’s job is to turn champagne bottles all day to evenly distribute the yeast and get the fizz, you need to complete a 3 year apprenticeship to even do it! We also stocked up on various wines as if the world was going to end or something!

8) Fitness: From wine to fitness, how appropriate…Melbourne is obsessed with fitness. People here run at lunchtimes, last time I checked lunchtime was time for lunch! No no, not here it isn’t, everyone goes for a walk, runs or does some form of exercise. This has rubbed off on me as I am currently doing pilates (posh stretches) on a Monday and Boot camp on Thursday and some swimming in between. Hell yeah that’s right baby, bring on the marathon, or maybe not.
9) Great Ocean drive: We had a chance with our lovely friends from London to go on the Great Ocean drive which basically means you drive along the coast and over some dodgy cliffs, oops I meant close to, and check out some awesome views. I can’t recommend this enough but not when you’ve been to a wine tour the day before and are prone to car sickness especially round some crazy bends. I just about survived and we didn’t get as far as the Twelve apostles (some impressive rocks from what I have heard) but if you ever visit, give yourself enough time to do the whole drive. We did however try Lamingtons, no they’re not masurpials, they’re just bleeding yummy Aussie cakes 🙂
10) Mornington Peninsula: Another beautiful area by the coast, we visited Sorrento (no not the one in Spain but close) and it was just blissful. Last weekend we visited Mornington itself and went out for a few drinks with cousins. Let’s just say that Morning folk can give the Essex lads and gals a run for their money and no I didn’t feel at home but it was a good laugh, shame I didn’t dress skimpy enough to fit in more, next time. 😉
That’s me folks, in between we did go to some fancy places like Nobu, yes they have Nobu here and I’m glad to say that at least it wasn’t as pretentious as Nobu in Mayfair, London. We didn’t get as ripped off either, well, maybe a little bit but it was a special occasion so who cares if we had too many cocktails?! Here’s some pics to get you salivating of that and some other things…remember people keep sharing the laav!
photo 12 photo 11 photo 10 photo 9photo 4photo 1photo 2photo 3All Nobu delicacies.
photo 8Champers at Domain Chandon where we learnt that Moët should actually be pronounced Moette because the guy’s Dutch whereas his partner Chandon was French. Note there is no champagne in this glass, it disappeared somehow.
photo 7 photo 6 These are some wine boffs talking about posh drinking where we also tried Sparkling Shiraz for the first time. Who knew you can have red wine as bubbly? Learn something new everyday…
photo 5 These my friends are baked eggs, yes they’re baked in the oven with some exotic tomato sauce, spices, dukkah, herbs and onions. This is exclusive to Melbourne as they’re the Kings and Queens of Brunches.
    photo 13 This last pic is a homemade white chocolate cheesecake with strawberry and blueberry compote and an almond and gingersnap base courtesy of our lovely friend from London… needless to say we do miss them 😦
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Crikey…lost in translation!

Where shall I begin? This isn’t is my first time to Oz, I was fortunate enough to come here last year and visit both Melbourne and Sydney and then had an epiphany about moving to Melbourne, no offense Sydney but Melb won my heart! I remember a conversation from that time and it really made me think, like properly think (doesn’t happen often ;-)). Basically, we were talking to someone about going to an area in Melbourne and trying to describe it and they said “Oh you mean where the Curries live?” and we were like “Ummm sorry what do you mean by Curries?!!” At this point I was wondering whether they were referring to the technology giant, o.k maybe not giant but the store Currys, rival to Comet but it’s not available in Oz! So were they actually referring to curry, as in the dish similar to a stew popularised by my Asian ancestors. I was baffled hence the title for this post, lost in translation! So being simple minded, I queried as to what curries are and in reply I found that curries were Asian people from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Mauritius etc living in a particular part of Melbourne that had a larger population of Asians e.g the Oz equivalent of Eastham, Ilford or Southall. By Asians they meant brown people, at this point I would like to express how much I hate the word “brown” people! It makes me feel like I’m the colour of shit and I prefer to think of myself and as a nice healthy Asian hue. I was familiar to the term brown people popularly used in maple syrup land a.k.a Canada especially in T.O where the term Asians represent my brothers and sisters from the Far East Movement (FEM).

Anyway let me get to the point, hearing the term “curries”really made me think, can people be defined by the food that they eat? Isn’t this the same as calling Chinese people “noodles” or Japanese people “sushi”??? Like I know the Aussies call the Brits “poms” after pomegranates and New Zealanders “kiwis” but isn’t curries a step too far?! It actually turns out that this is term used by Asian Aussies to describe themselves not by other Aussies as this would be offensive, as if it wasn’t offensive enough…and it also reminded me of a certain big brother poppadom incident, let’s leave it at that and not bring any chutney in.

So I’m not going to make this into a whole racial food debate as there’s one thing I learnt from Melbourne is that much like London, Melbourne is a city which embraces all cultures especially through its food. I’ve never seen so much love for food and respect for the food of different cultures. Melbournians love food, they are massive muticultural foodies and here all types of food are appreciated. Now you realise why we moved! Perfect example is their love of food courts, like come on people, food courts are basically humongous canteens for grown ups who miss school dinners! But why do they love food courts because they want to be able to try food from China (maybe not wholly authentic), India, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, America, France, Italy, the list goes on. I got over my food court snobbery and sat down to enjoy a katsu curry (nothing offensive it’s a real curry) and a family happened to sit next to me with some young kiddlywinks. They were a proper Aussie family, as Aussie as they come and I found it so interesting how the young boys were enjoying their sushi and their mum was warning them not have any wasabi unless they want their tongue burnt off and this brought a tear to my eye, not the wasabi, but the fact that these kids were new age kids! For them, their diets will embrace food from different worlds. They will hopefully grow up to be passionate about different cultures and delicacies…new age foobies (food babies – I tried!). Crikey, food courts were like United Colours of Bennetton ads in action…a thing of bewdy (Aussie way of saying beautiful).

Since coming to Melbourne, I have been on many foodie adventures! I am a foodie but am trying to consciously avoid being a fattie for health reasons naturally but how can you resist living in a place where they love Asian food so much. By Asian I mean the whole continent, there’s so many places here to have pan-asian cuisine, asian fusion etc. I’ve been to funky places like Bang Pop, Tom Phat, Pappa Rich (Pappa Rich doesn’t mean rich father, I checked), Dragon boat, Palms, Sake and the list goes on…! Dim sum is called yum cha here and is amazeballs! Fortunately everyone we know here are foodies so they have plenty of suggestions and there’s urbanspoon to help us novices. It’s not just Asian food but European food or any type of food here is so good and coming from London, my standards are high though I do miss my local kebab place Charcoal grill (it burnt down, oh the irony). It makes sense why Australian Masterchef is the best Masterchef in the world and now they Great Australian Bake off but where’s Mary Berry, boo! Aussies particularly Melbournians know their food and no one here is obese either so that’s a good sign init! They also love their brunches and you can even have asian fusion brunches with Sri lankan style omelettes and roti etc, my mum would be so proud, again tears in eyes! I’ve added some photos for you all to salivate over, I know I’m cruel but now that everyone’s putting food up on instagram and facebook should really be foodbook, I might as well do it. This now brings me to the conclusion that whether you’re a curry, noodle, rice or linguine, it doesn’t matter because they all live in food harmony waiting to be consumed by you! On that note, I have cleverly devised an international food alphabet which I hope you can help me complete with your helpful suggestions so that one day when I have kids they can be true foobies and learn to appreciate the greatness of food!

International Food Alphabet V1.0 to be completed with your suggestions….

A = Apple because it’s classic and universal and I love iPads, iPhones etc

B = Bubble tea, a milk concoction with black balls in it (nothing dodgy people)

C= Curry, any curry is just yum, the spicier the better for me even if it burns my backside, no pain, no gain people!

D = Devilled prawns, devilled is term for a spicey Sri Lankan dish you can have different devilled dishes, you can imagine it’s going to be as hot as hell, hence the name!

E = Eggs benedict, any other suggestions?

F = Fish and chips on a Friday nuff said!

G = Guacomole, the best use of avocados ever

H = Harissa, the secret spice of the middle east

I =

J =

K = Katsu curry, the Japanese know how to cook kats…

L = Lasagne in honour of the pasta that sounds like my name…

N = Nasi goreng because the Singaporeans know how to fry their rice

O =

P = Paneer, vegetarian cheese, staple diet of many veggies I know especially as chilli paneer! Oh no what about Peri Peri…Nando’s are gonna kill me, shame could have done with some sponsorship!

Q = Quorn, I know it’s not real chicken but it’s healthy

R = Rice the staple food for so many also known as risotto in Italian 😉

S = Sushi yup that’s right Daniel san!

T = Teppanyaki because everyone loves picking what they want to eat and having someone else cook it!

U =

V =

W = Wasabi because horseradish never tasted so good!

X =

Y =

Z = Zucchini which is what Aussies call courgettes and also because I struggled finding something for Z

Please fill in the gaps and feel free to recommend any better suggestions, all this food chat has made me hungry…I’m going to go eat and suggest that you should too but here are some quotes before you go…

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Humor keeps us alive. Humor and food. Don’t forget food. You can go a week without laughing.” – Joss Whedon

photo 1 photo 2 photo 4 photo 5 photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

P.S photo 3….Genius!