There is no advantage being overweight if you do not like food. Despite my overweight status, I like fine food cooked , and eating in restaurants where taste is king. The linen is fine, as is the cutlery, so too are the waiters. All in all I say, goodness reigns.
Fortunately, I have enjoyed many beautiful meals in such establishments despite having a beer budget and champagne tastes. It is my hope you do too.
At one stage during a period when fine dining was called “nouvelle cuisine” (1960+) chef’s lost the plot. From the many choices I offer two examples:
In the 1970s Daryl and I decided to take Michael to a restaurant called Pamplemousse at 200 Collins St. Melbourne. As a mark of distinction, this restaurant was on the 2Oth floor in a National Mutual building. (Neither the restaurant nor the company survives).
During the meal, high above the darkened city, a waiter brought us our main course. It was served on a huge plate. Maybe the plate was 40 cm across. In the centre of it in a swirl of jus sat the food. To give you an idea of its size, I calculate maybe a couple of match boxes would have covered it. In all, it was so attractive it would not have been out of place if it had hung from an art gallery wall. However, the course was not sustaining by itself.
Frank tells of a similar experience at a different place. The dinner was held to celebrate a very successful business trading year. The meal was seven courses long. In his words, to give you an example of a chef gone mad his description was. “The cook served a single leaf ripped from a Brussels sprout as a separate course”. At its conclusion the diners were so hungry they went the Scottish named take-away for bedtime sustenance before calling it a night. The message to take from this is — food must first be filling.
Of the thousands of dinners I have eaten, more than ever, I understand some meals seem tastier when we eat. Wonderful surroundings help, but the best cooks insist on simple food cooked well. It is helped when you understand the secret ingredient to every good meal is — good company.
One restaurant I would like to patronise in Melbourne is Atticia. The chef Ben Shewry has worked hard building its reputation. Before lockdown, it was placed variously in the top 100 places in the world to dine. Meals in this place carry a high premium, but that is not why I would like to go there. I know the food to be great. (It is however, beyond my retirees budget).
My reason is to support him is for his generosity towards hospitality staff who were stood down during during ISO. Of all the people who were unsupported financially with government aid during this time, wait staff represent a significant number. For more than five months most went without a pay-packet. In recognition of their hard times Ben and food writer, Dani Valent cooked soup and gave it away each Wednesday to unemployed restaurant staff.
These descriptions of my enjoyment of excessive attention dim if you cannot afford food at any price. That is why a free meal supplied by one of the best chefs is so exceptional.
In Melbourne, expensive places are fewer. The Hare Kristina group offer very cheap vegetarian meals in many locations. A business named Lentil as Anything, before ISO, left it to the diner to decide how much they paid for their meal. (After five months closed its reopening however it is dependent on GoFundMe supporters to do so.)
Across the country, diners could once visit a group of diners named Sizzlers. After more than thirty years the last “eat as much as you can” place closed this week.
Times change and dining is no exception. As far as I know, you can no longer order Peacocks tongues anywhere. Excellent news for Peacocks. What else is food news? You can eat for nothing if you live in Tel Aviv, especially if you like chicken. In return there is good news for chicken, according to my friends at Future Crunch.com
FC reports the company, The Chicken, is feeding visitors free chicken sandwiches. This is good news for the visitors, and it is excellent news for chickens. No chickens die in order for The Chicken to make their sandwiches. “the chicken on the menu is grown from cells in a bioreactor in an adjacent pilot plant visible through a glass window. Diners don’t pay for their meals; instead, SuperMeat, the startup making the “cultured chicken” meat, is asking for feedback on its products, as it prepares for large-scale production of food that it thinks can transform the industry.”
Further, they explain:
“The process is far faster and more efficient than raising animals. “Once the desired animal mass is achieved, it allows harvesting approximately half the meat every day,” says Savir. “It is metaphorically the equivalent of having a farm of 1,000 mature chickens, and harvesting 500 mature chickens out of that farm every day endlessly.” The “meat” is produced directly, without the intervening step of slaughtering and butchering. Done right, with renewable energy, the process can also cut the environmental footprint of meat, since it uses fewer resources.
Now the meals are free because no government has granted the company approval to sell their product. Today’s food lovers are simply testing food they proclaim, is as good as chicken.
My mixture of unrelated stories accepts good people continue to help the disadvantaged in: soup kitchens and food banks without any motive but to help. May their good work continue.
This article is reposted because it is more authoritative than my entry from 25th September 2020. Barracouta is a fishy narrative.
The inclusion of this story follows a return to a family farm at Apollo Bay (thanks Robin and David Knox). Chatting around the fire one evening talk turned to the barracouta and fishing there. It so happens when a fresh catch is sent from Apollo Bay a Colac fish and chip shop still sells it. On our journey home Jennie ate a tasty reminder of a common weekly meal. (She hadn’t seen the story above.)
Today i have watched Sean Connelly’s acceptance speech at the AFI awards. In 2006 he was given the tribute of a Life Achievement Award. I watched the program today as this is the week he died at 90. In his speech he acknowledged he had in inauspicious beginning. He left school at 13. I was shaken when, of all the things he might have said, he marvelled at how his life changed when he turned five. He said, “ I got my break, big break, when I was five years old, and i t has taken me more than 70 years to realise it. It is that simple, and it is that profound.” This man who became the character James Bond, 007 owed his success to those who taught him to read.
To read is life changing. We caught sight of it in our judicial child. At four she “transcribed” from a favourite work the words use to explain the tale. Drawing page after page of scribble — each sound representing the word she understood we spoke. As a teenager she noted the words she didn’t recognise it a text book in order to later check the meaning from a dictionary and note that beside the entry.
I, with some glee, report the company Adani changed its name this week to – Bravus. Presumably they assumed it meant “brave”. The company is far from brave. It was controversially given the opportunity to open what is proposed to be the largest coal mine in the world in the Galilee basin of Australia’s far north. At every stage, Adani has thumbed its nose to all complainants.
Whenever it reaches full production, the coal will be shifted offshore to India to produce thermal electricity without any acknowledgement of the contribution it will make toward global warming. Therefore, it was with great mirth to read students of Latin pointed out bravus would never have meant brave. The appropriate word in English is fortis. The Guardian Australia reported the word meant something else. In fact, it was the opposite of brave. They wrote, “Mining company Adani has changed its name to a Latin word that means “crooked”, “deformed”, “mercenary or assassin”, after mistakenly thinking that it meant “brave”. Knowing the true meaning it appears the company has chosen its new name very carefully as it is most appropriate.
My own education was not as clear cut as it was for Sean Connelly. I had trouble learning to read because I now understand what made it difficult was dyslexia. 75 years ago, no one had a name for it. My teacher thought by sitting me in a corner called, “the dunce’s corner” I might get over my disability and be shamed into reading.
I realised words and I did not get on together early in life. Learning to read was painful and it took me years to master. Learning to spell was as difficult. At school a training exercise was to learn five words as a spelling exercise each night for homework. Early next morning our teachers tested our comprehension and spelling of those words in the subject, Dictation. Day after day i failed to write the words I was expected to learn.
However, instead of being discouraged I took it upon myself to study vocabulary. I learned the foreign roots of words and little by little to decode the clues in order to read. I learned prefixes and suffixes, and the shape of words in order to scan paragraphs for meaning. Even at this stage of my life i find it easier to scan a text for meaning rather than to concentrate on each word. The downside of this is I still misread obvious errors, especially when rereading my writing, and I find form filling onerous.
To this point I have found you, my reader, accepting of my shortcomings in this area.
I love the sound of well read language. Many authors you like I cannot read. I cannot immediately identify words I use in speech unless I have mastered them before in print. It is possible i have a problem with English but as it is my only language I would be lost without it. As it is I sit somewhere between Sean Connelly and Adani when it comes to language, malapropisms excepted.
As Boy Scouts once a year, (perhaps less often), we played “Name the Shops”. It was a game, influenced by Rudyard Kipling’s book “Kim” and known as “Kim’s game”. It was a simple game which required us to name the shops in the local shopping strip of 3260. They ran for perhaps a kilometre down both sides of the Main Street. We had to name them in the order they ran. It was relatively easy because the shop ownership rarely changed and it included big civic buildings like the court, the shire office, the cinema, the post office, the 7 banks, and three car dealerships.
Some we knew as hangouts. They were the milk bars, the bike shop, the fish-n-chips, and the hairdressers. We struggled to remember the solicitor’s offices, the dress shops, the florists, or the beauty saloons. We knew each of the grocery shops, the shoe shops, and the men’s clothing store, and the chemist. The bakers were easy to name. Harder to remember was the chap that ran the photographer’s shop. On the other hand we remembered the two newsagents because they stocked comics. (We didn’t specifically have them at home, I remember reading The Phantom, and one called The Chuckler’s Weekly.)
There were three stock and station agents – farm supplies stores – in town. We also had four hotels for a population of about 2,000 town folk. Going home in the evenings we would stop and peer through the window of the electrical stores (after 1956) at the fuzzy black and white television sets. It was a strange thing to see, because the picture was frequently all white. This was because we lived in an area of poor reception and the antennas were too weak to pick up a clear picture. (In those early days none of my friends had tv so it caused no envy to look.)
In remembering this game I think I could still score pretty well. The fruiterer operated in a side street as did the doctors, the dentist, and the plumber’s supply shop. Some shops like the boot maker and the jewellers I remember easily because the operators were odd. Maybe the smell drifting from the shops helps me remember others. The smell of ink is a constant reminder of the newspaper office. I get a different, but similar, reminder when I pass a pub on foot.
Nothing remained open after five pm except the fish-n-chip shop and the pubs. They closed at six. The chippery remained open until around ten pm. On Saturdays most shops opened from nine until noon. After that the town was locked down until Monday morning. Saturday afternoon was given over to home maintenance or sport. Sundays were the day of rest. Over 9O% of the people went off to one church or the other. (I can count five different denominations) The church goers would dress in their Sunday best clothes. On the way to church they would nod, or wave, to their neighbours heading off in another direction to a different church.
The non church goers attended the Salvation Army Hall, or they went to the Seventh Day Adventist Church on a Saturday. Even the non believers attended one type of church or the other because even in those days of full employment few people jeopardised their job by declaring their lack of faith. Few jobs were advertised because they were usually filled by word of mouth. Some jobs were closed to people of one church but they were open to those of another. (Those days of fundamentalism were pretty dreadful. (It was possibly the stories I heard like this (long ago) that opened my mind to the evils of all segregation. Otherwise I have no personal experience of this type. It is my hope you never have to experience it either.)
[Unlike today, no one sold phones, (no mobiles). If your family wanted a phone it was supplied on loan from the Post Master General (PMG). All personal communications came from the PMG: mail, telegrams, and phone. It might be of some interest to learn telegrams were a sort of paper delivery of every SMS. Except people usually only got a telegram irregularly. The sender paid so much per letter and to reduce costs the sender just told their simple message briefly.
You could call the messages crude. “SAD NEWS DAD DIIED PEACEFULLY FUNERAL TBA “
Or you might have got one like we actually received when Andrew was born. It reads
CONGRATULATIONS WELCOME TO ANDREW LOVE TO ALL THREE BILL RYAN FAMILY
The message is addressed and was delivered to the hospital ward by the Telegram boy (who possibly rode a push bike to the hospital in a post boy’s uniform.]
Our shopping strip was a practical place. It never changed much as it was a place were all commercial activity took place, year in – year out. Today the buildings remain. Many of them have swallowed their neighbour and they have been enlarged. Some are empty yet the streetscape remains. Down the centre of town runs the avenue of Elm trees planted out by school children in 1876. It is a wonderful oasis to rest on a hot day. In the middle of the avenue is the wonderful bequest,the Thomas Manifold clock, built in the style of Westminster’s Big Ben in 1897.
When you visit Camperdown take pride that your great grandfather, Abraham, for a period, maintained and preserved this significant plantation,now recognised as a important heritage area in the State of Victoria
It is unlikely you will ever play “Name the Shops”. In the unlikely event your suburb has a main shopping strip, even if you learn the names of the shops it is unlikely they will all operate as they do today by middle of next month. Such is the speed of modern change.