Is the richness of lamb too much for Canadians? Do they just not like eating baby animals? Or is the idea of mint jelly on meat just too strange for us North Americans to handle? To be fair, us Canadians have our weird moments – we of the land of peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Yeah you grew up with it, but think about it. It’s weird, at least for an Australian who has never tried it before.
Whatever the reason, I definitely eat lamb more in Australia than I do in Canada. In the Great White North, it’s something I might enjoy once a year if I’m lucky. Down under, it’s in the regular weekly rotation with chicken, beef and the like. Personally, I find it a bit rich, but I don’t complain because it seems like a crime to call perfectly grilled lamb chops anything other than delicious.
Yesterday, I was about to catch a lift home with a friend, and asked him if we could stop at the liquor store on the way home. His friend loudly, but politely corrected me, “Do you mean the bottle-o?” That is indeed what I meant. In Australia, liquor stores go by any iteration of bottle-o, bottle shop, or, in my defence, liquor store, depending on where you are.
The key difference between bottle shops and their Canadian counterparts is that drive-through bottle shops exist in this country. That’s right folks; you can drive up to a store, ask for a case of beer from your car window, and receive your libations from the comfort of your vehicle. This troubles me. Of course, you’re not going to crack a cold one right then and there, but the proximity to the idea of drinking and driving still makes me feel a bit uneasy. In Australia’s defence, I guess you can’t put a price on convenience, but I definitely rest easy knowing that the town I live in is too small for a large drive-thru bottle-o.
I know what you’re thinking. How can one of the most common words in Canadian English (or any form of English for that matter) be an Aussie word? The answer is context. Canadians generally only use the word beautiful to describe something visual, while the Aussies use it to describe taste as well. For example, that vanilla slice was beautiful. This pizza is beautiful. Personally, I am in favour of this use of the word. Something about hearing it makes my food taste better. For instance, if someone were to tell me that those meat pies were just beautiful, I’d enjoy them more than if someone simply said they were delicious.
I’m not sure why hearing a different word works, but psychologists and linguists should look into this. Restaurant owners could make a killing.
It’s Wednesday night. You’re tired as hell and don’t really want to cook but need a satisfying dinner. You head to the store and pick up a pack of frozen cheemo perogies, an onion or two, and some Kolbassa sausage, fry it all up, and congratulate yourself on feeding a family of five for under fifteen dollars. Except you don’t do any of that, because you’re in Australia.
When I first realized that frozen perogies do not exist in Australia, I was in shock. Perogies are a staple in Canadian cuisine. For the Australians out there, perogies are polish dumplings made with various fillings such as potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, or meat. There are also dessert varieties such as strawberry and blueberry, but the most common are those filled with mashed potatoes, cheese, and onion. They are usually served with sour cream, are incredibly delicious, and are most importantly, cheap.
I have two theories as to why perogies don’t exist in Australia. One, perogies are a fairly heavy dish, not suitable for the harsh heat of long Australian summers. Two, Polish and Ukrainian cultures have long been integrated into Canadian identity, as these people pioneered the unforgiving Canadian prairies over 100 years ago. Not so in Australia. Here, the core culture has a decidedly British flavour.
No matter. One day I will start a frozen perogy business here and make my first million. Australia doesn’t know what it’s missing.