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Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

One day, I’ll take a picture of a Ring-tailed Possum.  There is a whole colony that lives around here and they let us know it by leaving lovely droppings all over the place – on our fence and near the plants.  I just sweep them up and throw them in my plants as fertilizer.  These are Aussie Possums – very cute and marsupials.  They are not the weird-looking Possums you get in North America.  I wonder why they are both called Possums?  I once saw one on my fence with a baby on her back…if only I had my camera!!  Cute as they are, they wreak havoc to any garden with succulent shoots – oh and yes, they loved my David Austin roses!!  Because I hate losing my plants, I have them in pots (they look sad because it’s winter) and they are fully covered by a bird net:

My pots covered in bird netting

My pots covered in bird netting

Anyway, here is another parrot – the Adelaide Rosella, that was in my garden over the weekend while I was trying to plant bok choy, sweet peas, green onions and peonies.  Adelaide Rosellas are a cross between Yellow Rosellas and Crimson Rosellas (bright red & gorgeous).  This guy was eating the red berries in the tree next to my fence.

Aren't they pretty?
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So in my first post on weird ads for hospitality jobs, I mentioned both a position catching chickens and being a “glassy” here.  What I found hilarious about the “glassy” job was that it required a resume and preferably previous “experience”.  I am not mocking the job at all as it is an integral part of running a bar smoothly but come on, it’s not exactly really hard nor technical.  The Aussie slang for a glass collector is what makes me laugh and requiring a resume blows my mind…really, who cares what schools you went to when all you do is collect empty glasses and clean them in a bar?

Anyway, I found yet another add for “glassies” but thank goodness this bar has simpler expectations – they just want applicants to ring the bar and better yet, no experience is necessary.  Maybe I should apply for this job just to see what a real “glassy” does.

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Starbucks Rundle Mall

Starbucks Rundle Mall

I decided to have a cup of their signature hot chocolate...

I decided to have a cup of their signature hot chocolate...

The Adelaide metropolitan area only opened three Starbucks stores, with its first one opening in March 2006 and there was very little hype when they came to town, except made by the ex-pats.  In fact, I had been in there only once before yesterday, its closing day, because we have better local coffee chains such as CIBO, Bean Bar and the Italian Illy cafés.  Although being on the major shopping street in the city, it failed to do very well here.  Their prices are really overpriced for coffee that isn’t that great.  But me and my friend Jen both wanted an Adelaide mug (just because) but it was too late, the store was wiped clean.

In the mid-1990s, I worked at a café that was affiliated with Starbucks in San Francisco.  Back then, there were official Starbucks barista trainers that used to fly in from Seattle to train every barista how to make coffee drinks Starbucks style – complete with illustrations of the drinks.  I was in awe of Starbucks back then and thought that they were so cool.  Starbucks was even known as a great company to work for, treating their employees well and offering great benefits for even their part-time employees.  I knew that Starbucks were expanding too quickly when I went to Vancouver and saw a Starbucks on just about every corner!  After years of studying Chaucer’s works, the pièce de résistance was when I finally made it to Canterbury cathedral in England and was shocked when I saw a Starbucks at the entrance to the beautiful and historical cathedral!  It really ruined the facade to the entrance of the cathedral!  What ruined my experience even more was that there were a few Starbucks employees handing out samples of muffins and cakes – it just seemed wrong.  See pictures below:

Canterbury Cathedral Gate

Canterbury Cathedral Gate

See the Starbucks?

Fast forward to 2005 when I moved to Adelaide and was surprised that there was no Starbucks in sight.  I thought, “wow, a city that Starbucks still hadn’t penetrated.”  I got used to the coffee terms and culture here very quickly.  People in Australia take their coffee very seriously and there are plenty of places that will teach you to be a bona fide barista.  The one thing that I love about a proper coffee made in Australia is that really good baristas can foam the milk so finely that it has the texture of marshmallows floating on top of the espresso.  That type of finely made espresso drink is hard to find in the states – perhaps it’s because America is much more of a drip-coffee country.  Order a drip coffee in Australia and you will be met with a lot of confusion…don’t even ask for “cream” with your coffee, you’ll be met with even more confusion – ask for milk.

I recently went back to the states to a Starbucks and the coffee was, to plainly put it, shit.  I asked for a latte and it tasted burnt and I got barely any foam.  I went back to tell the barista that I would like some foam and he said, “oh, it’s just that a lot people here feel cheated if they get too much foam.”  That’s fine if people don’t want foam but I didn’t ask for no foam.  Sigh…  It’s sad because I used to be such a Starbucks fan but now their quality has gone down and their prices inflated.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like Starbucks as a company.  I do really hope that with all these closings, they will re-train their employees and bring back the quality of their drinks back to what it was before the mega-expansion of over 16,000 worldwide stores.

Here are a few links to news stories on the closure of hundreds of Starbucks:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24099400-5013404,00.html

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92151783

**Coffee language tips for people coming to Australia:

Flat White – espresso shot with hot milk and very little/no foam (like a latte w/less foam)

Short Black – one shot espresso with hot water

Long Black – double-shot espresso with hot water (like an Americano)

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On any weekend, if you go to the local DIY store like Bunnings (our version of Lowe’s/Home Depot/B & Q), you will almost certainly smell hot sausages and onions in the parking lot as you enter the store.  It’s called a “sausage sizzle” and for a couple of bucks, you get a slice of squishy white bread, an average sausage with sauteed onions and a squirt of ketchup or bbq sauce.  There is nothing about it that is sophisticated but it is a tasty and cheap snack that is loved here.  I don’t know why but I had always imagined an Australian BBQ to be pretty exciting and I think the marketing team at Outback Steakhouse (a completely American company) made me think that there was something different, or better about an Aussie BBQ.

Last weekend, we decided to volunteer planting trees at a nearby park for National Tree Day.  Imagine my excitement that there was going to be a free BBQ as well!  Even the wet, cold weather didn’t deter us from planting some trees and having some BBQ.  When we arrived, I noticed that “BBQ” on offer was the sausage sizzle which my husband likes with but I do not really enjoy.  The main reason for my disdain is the taste of the sausages.  If you go to any supermarket and buy plain sausages, they usually contain some type of lamb or mutton along with pork or beef.  This is not something I am used to at all.  You’d never find lamb in a generic sausage back home unless it was labeled specifically as lamb sausage.  I am not a fan of strong flavored meats and can instantly taste it if there is lamb or mutton in the sausage (I have to be in the mood for lamb).

The choices that day were either burnt vegetarian patties or sausages on white bread and a can of soda.  I think I was really hungry because I devoured two sausages with all the grease and didn’t complain at all even when I was spitting out the gristle between mouthfuls.  I was actually happier about the free soda since they cost about $2.50 for a 12 oz / 330 ml can here.  I know, I know, I really shouldn’t complain because it was free but my point is that it wouldn’t have mattered where it was being served…it would’ve been pretty identical anywhere else, free or otherwise.

Today, I was walking through the University of Adelaide and it happens to be “welcome back from winter break” week for students and sure enough, there was the familiar smell of the sausage sizzle and a long line to eat the ubiquitous Aussie sausage in white bread for lunch.

What is my point?  I just wanted to show people outside of Oz what a generic sausage sizzle looks like.  It is a common thing to go to any average BBQ and have various meats and sausages grilling and a couple of loaves of squidgy white bread to use as buns.  I wonder why the hot dog bun never caught on here?  For me, I find the sausage in white bread very unexciting but when very hungry, it does the job.  Don’t get me wrong and don’t send me hate mail…I still LOVE living here and so many things about Australia but I still think that we do a better average BBQ in the States.

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The Fabulous Array of Dishes for the Potluck!

The Fabulous Array of Dishes for the Potluck!

Jennifer's Baked Beans
Jennifer’s Baked Beans

Did you know that the term “POTLUCK” is rarely used outside of the U.S.?  Well, my husband tells me that it isn’t used in the U.K. and I’ve never heard it used here in Australia.  Any Canadians out there?  Do you use the term “potluck” to mean “bring a dish” to parties?  In the U.S., a potluck is synonymous with gatherings, particularly at church functions or celebrations.

Vocabulary aside, I decided to have a potluck dinner at my house for the 4th of July to celebrate it with fellow ex-pats as well as my Aussie neighbors.  It was a great night and although it is a national day of bbq in the U.S.A., there was not a hot dog, fried chicken or rib to be seen here…not because we’re food snobs but because it is the middle of winter and NO one wants to even stand outside, let alone think of barbequing in bad weather.  No worries, there were so many bottles of great wine and a fantastic array of food!

The Americans brought a dish that represented their state and/or region and the Aussies could bring whatever they thought would suit.  Americans: Patricia, originally from the south brought spicy dry-rub ribs, Cathy, originally from Illinois brought ambrosia salad (made with her mother’s recipe) with REAL whipped cream from a cow (none of that Cool Whip shit), Jennifer from Missouri brought homemade baked beans and I made kalua pork (Hawaiian-style pulled pork, recipe here), lomi lomi salmon (Hawaiian-style salsa), potato salad, clam dip and a large Red Velvet cake (the one that looks like a flag).  The Aussies: Anna brought fresh spinach salad with homemade ranch and blue cheese dressings, Mandy (a food fanatic) brought a tomato & goat cheese tarte tatin and homemade lavosh with baba ghanoush!

I nearly forgot to serve the melon and real grape flavored vodka Jello-o (Jelly) shots I made with Jell-o smuggled in from the states!  It was the first time for a few of them and although I did forget to oil the shooters to make it easier to pop out, it didn’t stop everyone from devouring them – regardless of age (FYI, I was the youngest)…just goes to show you that everyone is a kid inside 😉

Grape & Melon Jell-o Vodka Shots

Sparklers in My Living Room!!

Sparklers in My Living Room!!

The evening was not complete without a few American brews – Budweiser and MGD that my neighbor Catherine brought over!  Oh, and we lit sparklers in my LIVING ROOM (because it was too cold to go outside and I didn’t care)!!

I celebrate Australia Day and Anzac Day with as much gusto as the Aussies do because I truly believe in immersing myself in the culture of the country I live in (and travel to), but it just doesn’t feel right to many Americans (including myself) if you don’t celebrate Independence Day and Thanksgiving.  Thus, it was great sharing this day with ex-pats and Aussies alike.

I’d love to hear stories from other ex-pats who had a 4th of July party!

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Every Saturday, I thumb through the large “Career One” section of our local paper to see if anything jumps out at me as interesting or worth applying for.  Although winter tends to be a pretty slow time of year for job ads, I have recently (in the last month) found two ads that made me chuckle and left me a bit puzzled.

The thing that I find joy in living here in Australia is the language.  The Aussie slang never ceases to amaze me – there are literally thousands of words and phrases to learn!  It is truly what makes Australian English so different from American English.  Australia’s slang variety and uniqueness is similar to Britain’s variety of regional accents.

“CHICKEN CATCHERS”

What makes me laugh about this ad is not just that they’re asking for chicken catchers but that it’s for the NIGHTSHIFT!!  What!?  Sounds like a job for someone very young and fit to run after chickens in the dark! Someone please explain…I need to be enlightened.

“GLASSY REQUIRED”

This is nowhere near as funny as the ad above but this just shows the Aussie slang.  I am assuming that “glassy” means someone who collects and cleans the mass amounts of glasses that needs to be dealt with on a Friday & Saturday night.  It just seems like such a very particular job position and one that would get pretty dull after a few months.  WTF…I honestly find it odd that they require a resume…how about just a phone call?  Does it need a college degree too?

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