As anyone who has ever tried to go out for breakfast, lunch or dinner with me has learnt, I am a very unsophisticated eater.
Even when I go out for a normal pub meal I can still get it all wrong, especially if I’m with new people. I usually order something that ends up being completely inappropriate, like burger and chips when everyone else has ordered something proper like a roast dinner, leading to the inevitable awkward “Oh heck, do I need to eat my chips with a fork? Do I need to politely cut this burger in half before trying to eat it? Why didn’t I just order a steak?!” moment.
When you take me out of the pub and into the wider world of dining, things just get worse…
I don’t really like fish and I really don’t like the idea of uncooked fish. I have once been persuaded to try sushi, by being told “you eat it with this green paste stuff on it, it doesn’t even taste fishy”. Correct, it just tasted of the green paste stuff, which I think is called wasabi and I know must never be mistaken for avocado. But if I always have to eat raw fish with a paste or sauce to make sure it doesn’t taste like raw fish, is there really any point in eating it in the first place? Why can’t I just eat something I like?
A German bakery (one of a popular chain) near my work sells a lovely little sandwich (roll? sandwich?) filled with tomato, green pesto and bocconcini cheese. The staff would have got a least a year of good laughs out of my attempts to pronounce the name of the bocconcini sandwich. Sometimes I couldn’t bear the pain and just resorted to the point-and-smile method of ordering lunch.
I don’t even need to explain – this is just another lunchtime linguistics nightmare waiting to happen! It’s just a sandwich made with fancy bread, it shouldn’t be this complicated!
I’ve not eaten many dumplings in my time, but I thought they were kind of stodgy and made with suet. I don’t actually know what suet is, but it seems to be used to cook stodgy and filling things. I recently had it on good authority from my friends that I just had to try the dumplings at a certain restaurant in the Haymarket area. I knew it would be a Chinese restaurant, but I hadn’t researched Chinese dumplings prior to the visit. It turns out that Chinese dumplings are not stodgy, have nothing to do with suet and are very hard to pick up with chop sticks. The dumplings were in fact made from a circle of a thin kind of dough sealed by pinching together at the top and contained some meat and some liquid. The liquid content made it very hard to pick up the dumplings and dip them in the accompanying sauce. When I did manage to manoeuvre a complete dumpling from serving dish to sauce and then to mouth, they were delicious. Overall however, I don’t think the taste was really worth the sloppy inconvenience and the general embarrassment of trying to eat the things under the observation of far more experienced dumpling consumers.
Did I just catch an unusually sloppy serving of dumplings? Maybe I should try again sometime?
I don’t know if anyone really thinks that much about custard in Australia, because there’s rarely an appropriate occasion to serve hot puddings. Back home however, most families will have some kind of dessert with custard at least once a week. I must have been at least 21 before I found out that it’s possible to make custard at home from raw ingredients. I had previously only ever known custard to be made with Birds Custard Powder.
Finally, a fancy food story with a happy ending. A few years ago, I discovered eggs benedict and it honestly changed my life. How did I not know about eggs benedict for so many years? How did I not know that the best poached eggs do not in fact involve an egg poacher? How did I not know that hollandaise sauce could be such a beautiful and addictive breakfast ingredient?? You can put away the ketchup now my friends, because weekend breakfast will never be the same again.
Cheesburger with wings: paseven / 123RF Stock Photo, Sushi: kolosigor / 123RF Stock Photo, Bocconcini: molka / 123RF Stock Photo, Focaccia: cokemomo / 123RF Stock Photo, Dumplings: chuyu / 123RF Stock Photo, Custard: dpimborough / 123RF Stock Photo, Eggs Benedict: kathienichols / 123RF Stock Photo
Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
All text content © Nicola Ranger 2013-2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.
All reader comments are moderated before publication.