Dining Down Under

I’m no gourmet… in fact, I’m somewhat of an anti-foodie. Dining at expensive restaurants and dedicating one’s self to culinary arts seems like a waste of money and time, respectively. I like good-tasting food, sure, but I don’t think it’s very important. Maybe that’s why I have such an easy time being a vegetarian; it’s just not worth the ethical cost for me to eat meat (also, meat’s kinda gross… I helped butcher my fair share of pigs and deer and, yes, squirrels when I was growing up; I have literally made sausage).

But the very fact that I’m a strict lacto-ovo vegetarian (I eat milk products and eggs) means that I focus on food more than I would otherwise, if only in what I avoid. Is that irony? I guess my exception to this is that while I have a very high tolerance for repetitive meals, I do enjoy novelty in my diet. So, dining in Australia was great for that.

Sometimes when I travel, I find it a little challenging to find food. (My friend Cameron, also a vegetarian, has a pretty sensible policy on this… he suspends his vegetarianism while visiting other countries, in large part to sample the local color; it’s too bad I’m so dang stubborn.) But Australia, for all its meaty reputation, is actually pretty veg-friendly. For one, it has some great Thai restaurants, like the one I mentioned earlier. For another, it has pies.

Yummy, yummy pies…

Now that I think of it, M and I had pies there last year, but we just sorta stumbled on the pie stand. This time, I was with locals, and I was made aware that this was a quintessentially Australian dish. You can get them all over the place. We don’t really have them here in the States… the closest thing we have is what we call “pot pies”, and they’re usually frozen, not something you get in a restaurant. They have whole restaurants that serve nothing else! These aren’t your typical 8-inch fruit pies, but little 5-inch savory pies… and they make veggie pies (also spinach “pasties”). I had these pies for breakfast, and they really hit the spot.

After arching… archerying… shooting arrows, Andrew and I went to another Aussie standby, the sidewalk cafe restaurant/bookstore, where I got (what else?) a gourmet pie. But this one wasn’t as filling as I needed after a bit of a workout, so I ordered a second dish, this one off the kids’ menu. When the waitress served it to me, I kinda hoped she’d say, “Do you come from the land down under?” But she just smiled, and gave me… a vegemite sandwich.

It had butter on it, and was much better for it. Andrew said that’s the only way to eat vegemite. I agree.