Hello Again, Sydney

One Sydney-sider's experiences moving back to Sydney after a long absence overseas.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our new Prime Minister

News from down under is that Julia Gillard has become the country's first female Prime Minister. Woohoo! Wooooohoooooooooo! Woooooooooooooooooooohoooooooooooooooo! At last we can cast off the reputation of being a conservative, chauvanistic society, and give ourselves a big pat on the back for electing a woman to-

Oh hello. Sorry I didn't see you there. What was that you said?

Yeah, okay, we didn't technically elect her - she was chosen by her party to replace the former PM, Kevin Rudd, but really, what does that matter? We would vote for her if we had a chance. I mean, look at her approval rating, shooting straight past that creepy-looking Tony Abbott. Woman's Day even brought out a special midweek edition to celebrate her appointment, that's how excited they were, and-

Yes, I know they were probably ordered by management to work overtime to put it out and that they did it to-

Well, "squeeze a couple of extra dollars out of readers" isn't the wording I would use. I'm sure they were excited about it - profit and pleasure are not mutually exclusive you know. Anyway, back on topic, this is just the tonic that-

If you'll let me finish, I was going to say "that Australian politics needs as we move into a new decade", not "that the Labor Party needs going into the next election". What are you insinuating anyway? That this is just some cheap PR stunt to produce an Obama-like feelgood effect among voters? Because that would be just the kind of thing I'd expect a man to say. You can't take the achievement away from Julia. You don't get to the top of the ALP tree without some serious drive and talent. Even if she was chosen because she would be popular, what's wrong with that? This is politics we're talking about. And now that it's a done deal, she's got the power, and she'll be the one making the decisions on policies and-

The mining tax? Well, that was Kevin Rudd's downfall wasn't it? You can't expect to take a chunk out of the big boys' profits and not cop a bit of retaliation, can you? Julie Gillard wouldn't be so stupid as to try that one on. She knows her place. I mean, she knows the place of politicians is to make sure the economy runs smoothly. For the good of every-

What was that? You've heard enough and have to go? No worries. You take it easy now...

Thank God he's gone. Honestly, the cheek of some people, trying to ruin a celebration like this. Bloody un-Australian! I'm off to read the latest Woman's Day cover story about our first couple: Tim Mathieson tells how he won Julia's heart.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Suburban scavenger

My idea for a Sydney food blog: meals prepared using ingredients found for free in the suburbs. I am more or less ripping this idea off from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; I'm also aware that what the world needs now is probably not another food blog. And to cap it all off, I'm not actually very committed to the idea. But if I did go for it, this would be my first entry...

Walking down to Coogee beach with my son and a couple of his friends, we stopped to investigate some fruit lying under a tree. My first reaction, of course, was "Don't put those in your mouths!". But when my wife and I looked closer, we realised with surprise - and joy - that the fruits were edible, and something we hadn't seen since leaving Colombia: feijoa.

The feijoa is about the size of a kiwifruit, but more elongated, smooth-skinned and firmer. Inside, the flesh is light green, sweet, and (I think) smells faintly of sherbert. In Colombia we used them for juice - just chuck a bunch of them in the blender with water, strain into a jug, then add sugar/water to taste. It's customary to have a glass of juice with your meal there, and it's something we really miss. In Bogota I'd go shopping at the markets at Palo Quemado, and buy a variety of fruit for juice throughout the week: maracuya, mora, guanabano, guayaba, coruba, lulo... and feijoa. The whole Boost thing - umpteen different fruits blended with frozen yoghurt and infusions of herbal benificence - leaves me unsatisfied. What's wrong with doing just one flavour, and doing it well?

As the feijoa we found under the tree were going to waste, we collected a few and took them home. Sadly, all but the very green ones were infested with grubs, but we still managed to get a decent juice out of those that were intact. I wonder if the person who owns the tree knows the fruits are edible. I also wonder why Australia doesn't grow them commercially. They're quite big in New Zealand, so the conditions here are obviously suitable. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, if you could get feijoa from the markets.

Be careful what you wish for. About a month later they were selling feijoa at our local fruit and veg shop. But at $2.50 each (!) you'd be paying around $10 for a glass of juice. I'll stick to getting them off the ground thankyouverymuch.