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
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
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!
W = Wasabi because horseradish never tasted so good!
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