If we had moved to Africa or Asia or somewhere in Europe, even, I would have expected the food to be very different here, but moving to England, which is, after all, the country which gave its feeding traditions to Australia, one expects it all to be more similar. And it all looks quite similar - though buy it, take it home and cook it, and one finds that, of course, it's not.
Take fruit and vegetables for instance; in this day and age of travel, bananas from Australia still hit the shelves of Tesco's as miniature green versions of their cousins in Brisbane. “Ripe and Ready” avocados are the size, shape and texture of walnuts, rhubarb is pink and delicate and sweet, nothing like the brash purple cudgels that jut from the earth in Oz. I'm not complaining – after all, it seems as though we can still get Vegemite (eurghhhhh – but my children love it), we can get pork pies and decent bacon here and what is a Tim Tam, if it's not a Penguin?* But I do feel as though I am having to learn to cook all over again.
Very interesting is the way that Food Poetry** has moved on in this country – though I don't think that Australia is that far behind. Take the simple Crisp (or Chips, to Aussies). In My Day, When I Was Young, Back in My Youth, etc etc, one was happy with a bag of salt and vinegar crisps. Then along came Mr Kettle Chip and suddenly crisps had to be cooked in Kettles in order to be served in a nice, cut glass bowl to guests one wanted to impress. For a while that was okay, but then Salt and Vinegar was no longer good enough. Only Salt and Cider Vinegar is now deemed acceptable, or Salt and Balsamic vinegar. But if one wants to REALLY impress, one can go a step further – to Mongolian Salt and Somerset Cider Vinegar, for instance, or even, Mongolian Salt and Neopolitan Balsamic Vinegar Hand Cooked, kettle chips. I don't think it will be long before one has to buy a separate pamphlet with the crisps, just to accommodate the description on the packet.
And what is it with Salted Caramel? I like salted caramel as much as the next person, but it seems that we are in danger of being overrun with the stuff. I kid you not – was browsing the shelves of Waitrose the other day and came across a packet of Salted Caramel Green Tea.
Have not yet come across a packet of Salted Caramel, Caspian Salt and Tibetan Malt Whiskey Vinegar, Finger Brittled Kettle Chips, but sure the day will come. And what I would like to know is this: are they really going to be better tasting than the old Salt 'n' Vinegar?
*And if you don't understand the reference, that's fine. I like being mysterious.
** AKA utter bollocks.