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 have I eaten such delicate chops, such unobtrusively cooked vegetables and such sumptuous 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, he 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 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 interested in tourists who transport it in brown jars to different countries. “And do you have anything 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 spoke 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 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 not bad at all 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. Would you like to try? I do not 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 out to the buffet with a masterful gesture, because while everything is spinning, he just remains in place. “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 emu ostrich, 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. Kangaroo meat is tender (contrary to the assumptions of some that it should be sinewy, since kangaroos run a lot.