There are certain American things that we’ve had to replace with an Australian equivalent over the past year. Miles have given way to kilometers, and pounds to kilos – but that’s not Australian, that’s just plan logical (don’t get me started on the incredibly logical merits of the metric system). Strawberry jelly has given way to plum. 110 volts have turned into 220, NTSC to pal. Iron chef has turned into Masterchef. The petite US quarter has been replaced by the gigantic Australian fifty-cent coin, and on and on and on. And there is at least one more Australian switch I’ll need to make; I used to have some bisquick that was imported from the US via my suitcase and the baggage handlers of Quantas, but it’s gone.
You see, we have a thing for pancakes.
This weekend, we had another test-kitchen event which is critically important research and development for our restaurant Mrs. Pancake (you are absolutely going to love it!) We were busy trying to make the world’s best chocolate pancakes with peanut butter syrup, but we didn’t have any corn syrup so the PB syrup was a bust, and I ran out of bisquick which is a pretty hard barrier to overcome on your way to the world’s best chocolate pancakes. No worries, (that’s another Australian equivalent… it means a lot of things like "…it’ll be okay," "… no sweat," "…you’re welcome") test kitchen survived and the verdict was that we had not yet reached world class status on the outcome, but we have a recipe that we will perfect over time.
Everywhere we go, all over the world, we explore the local interpretation on pancakes. On Australia’s Gold Coast we visited Pancakes in Paradise – it was very good. On our first night living in Sydney we ate at Pancakes on the Rocks – just okay. While we were in Melbourne we dined at the Pancake Parlour – incredible, outstanding, life-changing… well that might be a little much! Mostly we seek out the sweet, breakfast variety of pancakes, but any kind will do. I especially like the little pancakes you get at Yum Cha (that’s the Australian version of Dim Sum… which is actually Chinese, but you get the idea).
With the start of American football season only weeks away (it’s called grid-iron here, and no one understands it), we tried the Australian version of football over the weekend. Now, to be clear, Australia has at least three different sports called Footy. The two that are most popular in the Sydney area are really different types (Australian’s call them codes) of Rugby – but the sport that the country is probably craziest about is AFL – Australian Rules Football. And, I can say without reservation that AFL is awesome.
This Sunday at the stadium which hosted the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Olympics we saw the hometown Sydney Swans come from behind to crush the St. Kilda Saints. It was an incredible game. AFL is super exciting live. It is incredibly fast paced with plenty of lead changes and scoring. The oval (that’s Australian for field) is huge and these guys run full-on for 120 minutes. We truly enjoyed ourselves and look forward to watching the Swans make their run at the premiership (that’s local for playoffs).
The only down side of the game we saw was the fact that both teams had pretty un-original theme songs. The St. Kilda Saints took the field as “The Saints Go Marching In” played, not super inspired considering they are...the Saints. Even worse though, the Swans have a club song complete with their own lyrics, but it is really just the Notre Dame fight song with new words. I’m sure if you asked 8 out of 10 Swans fans they would have no idea their club song was ripped off – and the other two probably saw the movie Rudy and thought, “Hey why is that band playing the Swans club song?”
Other than their songs I have no argument with AFL – I’m a fan. One thing it is not, however, is an equivalent for American Football. That is something we miss and can’t replace.