Monday, August 25, 2008

Return of the Jamon.

1928 is getting married.

He said at his wedding reception, he would love for nothing but Jamon Iberico to be served. Apparently, only I understood his vision.

I called him up the other day and this is how our conversation went:

1928: Hey, what's up?
Me: Returning your call.
1928: Oh, yeah, I need cake. Brunswick st. Cake.
Me: I'm not a cake eater, really, but try Alimentari or Babka. I think everyone else just orders in. Who knows.
1928: You're a life saver.
Me: Did you know on you can get a kilo of Jamon Iberico for only $181?!?!?
1928: $181!?!?!
Me: $181!!! I am totally getting that for you engagement present. Haha
1928: No, I'll die of a heart attack!


1928: Wanna go halves on a kilo?



I have a group of people close to my heart who, when they were in Macau, were called "chee sien guai lou." The rough translation of that would be 'crazy white man,' (yes, my people are more racist...Lacist...than you think), but the direct translation would be crazy ghost man.
There is also an expression that my mother said to me the other day in attempts to be cool and hip. I asked her how someone who influenced my life in a huge way was. Her response (said in English) was, "He's now gone to sell salted duck eggs."
This actually means that he's dead.
A little like, "they've kicked the bucket."
Also, if you call someone a dickhead in Cantonese, you're really just calling them rolled rice noodles.
Yeah, that changed my view on that particular breakfast item.
If you're telling someone to go to hell (well, that is what the SBS movie translation is), you're really telling them to fall over in the street.
And won tons...yeah, that actually means to swallow a cloud.
And what really annoys me, is that Yum Cha, really means to drink tea. The idea is that the tea is a digestive between all the gossiping and dim sum that you're eating, hence the small portions.

And on the topic of Yum Cha, why are lazy susans called lazy susans? Who said that Susan was lazy, and in particular, why is Susan so important to have a round board named after her habits?

But...I digress.

Today, I looked in the fridge and realised that I had a whole lot of eggs and my tomatoes on the counter were on their last legs. I am a little sick of baked eggs and it is not breakfast time, although it is the first thing I have eaten today. We can call it Linner.
I was on the phone to someone who isn't Cantonese while making this, and I couldn't think of how to describe this dish. Basically, it is my comfort food. It is cheap, tasty and reminds me of my dad.
They're also directly translated to be Stupid Eggs.

Stupid Eggs

4 eggs
1 onion, halved and thinly slices
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, chopped
100ml passata
1/2 cup water
oyster sauce
soy sauce
3 spring onions, sliced
corn flour

Fry the eggs of in a pan and set them aside. Saute the onions and garlic and when transluscent, turn the heat on high and add the tomatoes, passata and water. Bring to a boil and cook till the tomatoes break down and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a teaspoon or so of sugar, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes, and then add a tablespoon of oyster sauce and a couple of dashes of soy sauce. Allow to cook down a bit and return the eggs to the pan with the tomato mixture. Check the seasoning again and readjust. Throw in the spring onions. Add a teaspoon of corn flour to water and stir till dissolved, throw in to the pan to thicken and turn off the heat. Serve over steamed rice as part of a dinner.

Hmm, this makes me forget that Chinese dinners involve around 2-5 different dishes on the table that are shared between family or guests. Erm...improv that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I am wondering how strong my convictions are, seeing that I am sitting between classes, attempting to do my readings for my next class while sucking on a beer like a baby with a bottle. I get up at some ungodly hour to exercise before I rewrite my pitch for class this morning, and when I get home, I exercise.

That seems fine, but this is all done on a hangover, so of course, reaching for a beer seems to make sense. Not the best form of rehydration, but I am at uni until 7. It is also past midday and I am 2 days strong without cheese.

Jesus Christ. I'd hate to be addicted to crack.

Every time I try to cut back on the drinking, I generally try to eat like an aerobics instructor, but without the stick up my arse. However, I don't think I have ever been successful.

A few years ago, I held a dinner party for 9 people, but I was unable to eat anything for 2 days before and unable to move during the party. The editor of a magazine I was writing for ended up driving me to the doctor's the next day. I am soon flat on the table, with a whole lot of prodding and poking resulting in me vomiting bile into a kidney dish and then being driven by the receptionist to St Vincent's Hospital.

"Is there anyone who can take care of you?" the doctor asks.

[insert more vomiting]

"Ah, no. I don't live at home and my housemates have all gone home for the summer."

The first thing he does is send a male nurse in to hook me up to an IV drip. At this stage, I had many problems with stomach ulcers, acid reflux and I was on so much medication that most of my veins had collapsed. The male nurse calls in another nurse and they each have one of my arms, jabbing a needles into them, fishing around and not getting a bite. After a total of nineteen attempts, they call in a children's nurse. Apparently, having not eaten had made my veins harder to find and my blood pressure was dangerously low.
I look like a crack addict.
My arm gets flushed with something strange and burning and it is apparently meant to plump up my veins.
No love.

"Now, we're going to have to put this in your fist."

Oh fuck. Not this, I had it done when I went in for a gastroscopy and all I wanted to do was punch the anaesthetist.

"Um, do we have to?"
"Well, I am afraid it is the only option. You're severely dehydrated and even if you could get up out of this bed you could faint."


He puts a torniquet around my wrist with the other two nurses watching on. That's right, I'm your favourite performing monkey.
They are trying to be kind, I'm sixteen or something at this stage and they're asking me questions as if I am twelve. Yes, that is right, I know what I want to be when I grow up already. Preferably taller, but that dream ended after I stopped growing at thirteen and took up chain-smoking as a profession.

"Now, can you pump your fist?" He says.

This isn't like they're putting it in the back of my hand, the drip is actually going into the fleshy part underneath my thumb.
I keep pumping, and it feels like my hand is about to explode, and at the point where there is so much pressure, my hand is too weak to pump any more, the nurse jabs a needle into my hand but it isn't the drip. He's collecting my blood in a test tube and I watch it being filled, giving me control of my hand again.

"You're ok with blood, I take it." The children's nurse says.
"Er, yeah. It's fine to watch. A bit surreal, it doesn't feel like it's mine because my fist has gone numb." That's right, for all you men out there, I had just been given a stranger. A bit of a waste, hey?

Ok, Now we're going to put the drip in.

I'm in the hospital for a total of eight hours and my phone has been switched off. No one knows I am here, and I start wondering if anyone has called me.
At the moment, a team of five run in with a girl in a gurney. She's rabid, swearing her tits off and bleeding everywhere. She's wheeled next to me, physically about a metre away. I turn my head and I can see her eyes rolling into the back of her head and the nurses are yelling at her for a response.

"What has she taken?"
"We're not sure, but it smells like she has been heavily drinking."

"MARGARET, WHAT HAVE YOU TAKEN???" The doctor is yelling at her.
"Fine, Maggie, what have you taken? Have you taken heroin?"
She's completely restrained, and nods. One of the nurses is trying to check her blood pressure, but she tells him to fuck off and spits on him.
He slaps her in the face.
"OW, you hit CUNT!"
"MAGGIE calm down, or we can't help you."

Everyone clears off for a couple of hours because she passes out. I hear her occassionally moaning and sounding like she is chewing the side of her face off.

I need a book.

The doctors are talking to the nurses and it appears that she is a 23 year old Asian female who, the night before, had been heavily drinking with her boyfriend, taken pills and heroin, continued drinking, shot up more heroin and then argues with her boyfriend and drives off.
She drives into a pole in the city, and after the crash, drives into a telephone booth, and from the window of her car calls 000.

We're all caught up.

Her mother appears after they figure out her contacts and I realise it is night time already. They have changed my IV bag 4 times and all it has done is make me want to pee. I feel like a bit of a fraud getting up out of bed and walking the IV to the toilet of the emergency ward, even though I find it almost impossible to walk.

Finally, my test results come back and it turns out that my stomach, spleen, kidneys and liver are inflammed from a virus.
They give me a bag full of drugs, tell me I am not allowed to drink for a week and send me on my way after changing the IV bag one more time. I leave and it is completely dark outside. I turn my phone on.
No one has missed me.
I wander around in the pitch-blackness, taking the back streets all the way home to an empty house in Clifton Hill.
My neighbours are not home for the first time since I had moved in.
I lie in my bed and think about how I can't lie down anymore, and realise I have a dinner-party's worth of dishes to do and ashtrays to empty.
I bend over to pick up a plate on the floor and a coffee mug that had been used as ashtrays and my torso feels as if it has been set on fire. I sigh and walk outside, climb on the roof, pulling myself into a comfortable position and feel the chill of a newly changed wind.
I light up a cigarette and close my eyes.

I only manage one and a half days without a drink. My first beer is with two of my boys, at a friend's "When-I-grow-up-i-wanna-be" party where her dad shows up as a drug dealer in a white suit.

I think the taste of the Coopers pale ale that I drank is forever imprinted on my memory, because it has now become my default beer. It is no surprise that I didn't slow down afterwards and ended up with the virus dragging on for months and worstening my reflux.

So, that is the end of my beer.
We'll call it caloric dairy compensation. I know it doesn't work like that, but it makes sense in my head.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Need to rest.

I think my insides are screaming just a little. My heart may be hardening or clutching at itself, as my liver is slowly cowering and pickling in a Jess-shaped jar.
I went a little hardcore last week with the eating and didn't really adjust my exercise to suit it. This is what a confit must feel like.

Amongst the usual shenanigans...the hootenannies...irresponsibilities, I ate out a little too much.

Monday: Malaysian take out in nurse of a hangover.
Tuesday: 100 Mile Cafe after the Hive meeting
Wednesday: -
Thursday: Cafe Bedda
Friday: Vue de Monde
Saturday: 3 Generations of family dinner...Asian banquet style
Sunday: DOC


I guess what I am trying to say is that I have to eat simpler this week. So far, doing the vegetarian thing without cheese (*tear*) and exercising more.

Dare I say detox?

Saturday, August 16, 2008


My housemate said that if I didn't have my eating habits as a student working part time in a job that I hate, I would be stupidly comfortable money-wise.

I ate at Vue de Monde last night and I am a little speechless.


Art work.


I should shut up before I make it sound like a performance piece where it turns into a theatre restaurant.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I ate weird shit

and it upset me.

Generally there is a sense of nostalgia when I eat crappy over-packaged/manufactured/processed shit from Asia. I feel very guilty and like I will not decompose until we reach the next millenia, but nostalgic.

Today, I encountered freeze dried fruits. I have had this in the novelty form of "Space food" before, but I couldn't remember it, so I thought that it couldn't have possibly been bad. This girl had pineapple, "Asian pear", strawberry and apple all sprawled out on her desk...and I, a bag of pretzels.

I offered her some pretzels and her face screwed up, like I just fed her sand from the beach.

Sorry, never again.

In exchange, she made me try every flavour in front of her.

In my experience of other cultures and being pushed and prodded at for my exchange through Rotary, I am well aware that things are different, not "weird" or "shit." However, this was weird shit.

Weird, dry, traumatizing shit. (Sorry, I have to be honest here.)

My tongue petrified and I am pretty sure she just slipped me seasoned cardboard, thinking that she'd get me back for my white-man treats. These "Brothers-All-Natural" snacks, which apparently mother nature would eat (I am pretty sure that mother nature eats everything in her path and isn't a picky bitch about it) is not luscious, as it claims to be, but fucking frightening.

She says she got them from Laguna, the Asian supermarket at the back/front/side/upstairs (who knows, this post-modern architecture hurts me) of QV, but with closer inspection...they're actually from NY. It figures.

Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I have had about three and a half bottles of water, and my tongue is still suffering wake-time nightmares.

Can you tell I'm procrastinating from working?

Oh yeah, don't eat this shit. (Image stolen from the Brothers All Natural website.)

Shit I love.

Cynical, caffeinated, basic myself.

But unlike me, he has the dedication to update constantly.

Ryan makes me happy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A French, a Greek and a Whole Lot of Olives.

One of my friends is leaving this damn city for a while, and I had the pleasure of eating dinner with her and her mother in their home over the weekend. There is no strangeness about that, we all just like food.
My friend, who by her eating habits and physic inspired the name of this blog, served up a through-Europe-we-go kind of a party. She's actually a proud mongrel of France and England. Many people who meet her say, " I thought those countries hated each other?"
She dryly replies, "Yeah, that's why my parents are no longer together."

Yes, I love this woman.

Just as much, I love her mother's taste in furniture, art and other strange collectibles. She can speak something close to a million-and-eight languages and owns an old school Russian coffee brewer the size of me, and has vintage, wooden train seats inside her house. Her fruit basket has labels of "feet" and "goat" in French with changeable prices.

Yes, I also love this woman.

I also find it phenomenal how the gap in technology is closing in. Mother and daughter often communicate to each other through MSN. I think if my mother did that, I would just cry.
Needless to say, this is all actually leading up to something and I am not just mindlessly telling you of relationships between families.
So, the French mother, in wonderful French mother styles presents us with olives before the meal. My taste buds kind of popped, and then I realised I had probably eaten the equivalent of half a jar.
Never fear, apparently she has another few kilos of them.
I ask her if she did them herself to warrant so much. It is in season, after all.

"No," she says. "I was attracted to this via the internet. I saw a company named Nicolas and I liked it because it means corner store in French. Then I saw the shape of the olive oil bottles and bought a whole lot of their things. Here, have a jar."

They are crammed full of bay leaves, lemons, garlic, oregano and the estate's own extra virgin olive oil (which is stupidly divine and peppery) in Dimboola. It comes in chili as well.
Apparently the guy calls you for credit card information and drives over to your place to deliver it. My friend wasn't home so he hides them in the bushes.

Old school.

Yeah, these guys. Funnily enough, Nicolas is not for is just the guy's last name. Yes, he is Greek...and no, I am not stereotyping people, I went on the website.

Later, I see my friends and offer them olives...we all order some online.

Blah blah blah...I have to go to class, or at least pretend I am listening in this one. You get the drift.

Check it out...ah, gotta love Melbourne Uni wi-fi.

Monday, August 11, 2008

So much for being carbon conscious.

If I could raid pantries for a living, I could easily target the emotionally insecure and physically self-conscious and write a book called, " What my packaging says about me," or, "I am not educated enough to fucking realise that I have to do your own diet research and not read cans or buy into stupid colourful gimmicks. I am a marketers dream."

But, I think the latter is too long for a title. It's also a little too travel-book for my liking (this is in reference to the time I have recently spent in airports. One book was called "Don't tell my mum I work in an oil rig, she thinks I am a piano player in a whore-house" or something as stupid. It was badly written.)

Anyways, my aunt has just come over from the US, and being the ripe old age of 60, isn't consciously aware of things outside of her grandchildren. Not that it is a bad thing, but I just can't relate to her. She brought over my body weight in vitamins for the family, as well as a whole lot of overly packaged food. Sure, it is sweet and all, but she should know that we have almonds in Australia.
So, I try to shop organic, local, biodynamic, support independent companies rather than giant chains...and all of a sudden, I find myself chewing at "Blue Diamond Almonds, Whole Natural," and all the way from California.
Oh yes, I should add that everyone on my father's side moved to either the US or AUS, and everyone on my mother's side moved to AUS or stayed in HK. Only slightly relevant now, but that is the generations for you.
There is this revolting green plastic lid on the aluminium can, which has been foil-sealed and is covered in ridiulous paper with a whole lot of deception and self promotion.

"Irresistable snacking!" is apparently its trademark.
"3g net carbs" is written on the lid, in font larger than the brand itself, and is repeated another 4 times on this can, carrying only 170g of almonds. It is then reiterrated, just so it doesn't seem like they're lying....predone maths.
"6g total carbs-3g fiber= 3g net carbs." Apparently, they're still fearing carbohydrates in the US. Where's the rest of the maths? 1g carbs= 4 calories. 1g protien=4 calories. carbs and protien = the same amount of calories.
My personal favourite is their desperate attempt at appearing like a healthy food, by injecting a whole lot of nutritional jargon which nullifies what it states in the first place.
"Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. See nutrion information for fat content."
It is sad how much they underestimate their market when I think that American advertising is so damn clever.

See for example which I saw on the Elegant Suffciency:

Anyways, the thing is, I am very good at looking through what people have in their pantries and fridges and can scale them with how educated they are on their diets or can identify the insecurities they have with their bodies.

It's mean, I know.

These almonds make me feel like an uneducated chump and every bite I take makes me think that a farmer may reach over and slap me every time I swallow.

On a side note, the Melbourne Specialty Cheese Show is on this Sunday at Crown again. I am the cheese, so, I may see you there.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Does money buy you irresponsibility?

Silk Road.

You have to hate the fact that you like it, and somehow always feel like a hooker there.



That's just me.

But, I recently ate at the Teppanyaki section and was a little more than shocked when the chef seemed a little less than apathetic that he was serving ling. As far as I know, it is a non-sustainable fish and when I brought the issue up, he acknowledged it and continued on.
My thoughts are that if he is the chef, surely he would be able to influence the things that he serves to his patrons. I also thought about the amount the would be buying.

I know that money can lead to overindulgence, but I think that there is a very clear line between indulgence and being irresponsible.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a hippie, but I don't think it is right for such a big place to be uneducating what this whole movement of food is about. It is promoting the wrong ideas and ideals about what money can do for your stomach.
And sure, I am willing to pay an overly inflated price for alcohol (I mean, something has to pay for all that fucking electricity running through the place...which I still frown on, but no one can make a green-bar, can they?) but serving something which is obviously not in surplus and basically encouraging people to fuck with the ocean gets me a little peeved.

Obviously people who don't know this will go off and try and buy ling.
Obviously when people are drunk, they care less.

I know it sounds stupid for me to say "Kill responsibly," but that is really all I am getting at. It has been weeks since the event and I am still thinking about it.
And hypocritically, I ate it. And what makes it worse is that it was overcooked.

Rant over.

It's a Jamover.

You have to love them. There is never a time where it is not acceptable in dag-speech.

I do have to credit the Jamover to 1928 though. I must clarify here, the relationship between 1928 and myself is largely dedicated to food and was originally built on the premise of cold meats.

Basically, I hadn't eaten all day, and I met up with 1928 on the Tuesday night at around 11pm, at Toff after the Luke Steele Roadshow. It was very good, but that isn't the point of the post.

Our drunken-loutery led us to the carriages where we drank ridiculous wines and chased them with gin. 1928 takes a menu and studies it with a little too much intent.

"I am really craving Jamon, but they don't have it here."
"Iberico or Serrano?" I say. He's put the idea in my head, and my stomach has already started salivating for my face.
"Where are we going to get Jamon? I can't stay here, I will just get dessert."

[insert 10 minute break in conversation where our heads try too hard to sniff out Jamon]

It is pretty pathetic that neither of us thought of it in the first mention of Jamon because we practically live there.
"We can't stay long though, I have three back to back workshops that run for 2.5 hours each starting at 9 in the morning." I say.
"Sure thing, I should be getting to bed by midnight anyways."

At the Supper Club, we start with the wines and then move to the Shofferhoffers.

The menus have this wonderful red box which draws the both of us in. They are offering us both types of Jamon and then....the prices. The Serrano is $24, and the Iberico is $44. Beneath them both, froi gras pate $24.
50g per plate.

We deliberate over this and make an informed decision. Decadence cannot be like this for a Tuesday night, so we decide to start with the Serrano. If we're not satisfied, then we go to the pate, and if we're still not sated then it is onto the Iberico.
Our friendship is strong.
At 11:52 the Serrano arrives and we ask the waiter to stay there while we sample the meat.
We order the pate.
Basically, we eat ourselves into a yet-to-be-satisfied slump. I'm full, feeling too indulgent and a little drunk.
We head upstairs to Siglo for a cigarette and 1928 takes a trip to the bathroom. I am sitting at the window back at SC and 1928 comes bounding up the stairs with a grin that you could fit a dissected orange into.

"You ordered the Iberico, didn't you?"
"Yep." He says. Simple, honest, shameless.
"I am not going to be able to wake up in the morning! It's already 2am and I will have a Jamon coma."
"Ha, and I will probably be in bed till 3."

$240 dollars later (we drank a lot more than we thought) and many hours are lost, and we head home. We are too satisfied.

I crawl out of bed at 6 to exercise the gout away and make a sore and sorry trip to uni.
I text 1928 at 8:44am:


At 1:30 I get a text back from 1928 saying;

"I just got up. I have a Jamover."


The complete misadventure.

Markets are evil and do NOT allow me to restrain myself, unlike supermarkets which seems like I only really have to go there for basic toiletries. I say BASIC because all supermarkets recently took away my toothpaste. I am very particular about my oral hygiene and I will generally trek around town to compile my stash.
The toothpaste that I speak of is in fact Listerine toothpaste. I got one of my friends, who used to live on the other side of the river addicted to it, we will refer to him as 1928 (for those of you smart or drunk enough to work it out...then give yourself a point). When he tipped me off on the Priceline on Chapel st stocking it, we pretty much bought them out. I had been reserving and rolling up the impossible plastic tubes for the dregs of my last Listo-blast-mouth-ness until I went to the Vic market the other day.
I went with a friend who is still a hippie despite his denial and is in love the Tea Tree Oil toothpaste. After we ran around and got all our bits and pieces, and somehow scored 3x $10 organic meat trays to divy up later, we stopped at the chemist in the deli section. He eyed off the Tea Tree toothpaste, which is only slightly easier to find that Listerine and after he acquired yet another tube, he felt like he won at life.

"What ever happened to Listerine toothpaste?" I said.
"Oh, you can still get it. We don't have any here, but I can get someone to run down a few tubes for you."


I will never have to set foot in a supermarket again.

This wonderful woman, who is now someone I would consider marrying for this sole purpose, literally called the main pharmacy and a man who looked like he was 112 ran to her with three tubes of the precious blue squishy stuff in his hands.
I bought all three.

Usually the little things like organic eggs, in-season produce, impossibly fresh seafood or meats get the better of me. However, on this day, I would have to say the pick of my bounty was indeed the toothpaste.

I went home and made a pea and ham soup, only becuase I felt the need to make stock on the gloomy day. Zucchini fritters and a lamb, eggplant casserole with a tomato base.
I haven't eaten it all and it has been 5 days since. I have been best friends with my freezer and I think my friends are starting to think that I want to fatten them up.