The Spider that Ate Sydney

We took a nice drive around some of the northern Sydney beaches the other day, where I captured this shot of downtown Sydney’s impending demise (by giant spider monster). I’m sorry that none of you will get a chance to visit Sydney now, but if it’s any consolation, I did get some nice photos while it was still around.

This might be a good time to mention that Australia is sometimes called the world’s most dangerous country for its enormous collection of deadly animals, including tons of venomous spiders. I was disturbed to find out that one of them is named the ‘Sydney Funnel-web spider’, which is not the least bit reassuring to hear about when staying in Sydney.

They also happen to have all 10 of the world’s top 10 deadliest snakes.  Also… sharks! At the beaches! And people keep swimming there anyway!  What a ballsy lot. But on the other hand, the murder/homicide rate is pretty low, so all-in-all, it probably balances out.  😉

New food to try!

I’ve been known to rave about bread before- usually foccacia or ciabatta, or a good old freshly-baked loaf from the corner bakery in England.

But this stuff was a nice surprise.  Despite the description and the unusual name, damper is very tasty and was an enjoyable new thing to try. Oh! I’ve also eaten “turkish bread” a few times already here. Fantastic stuff! It’s like an overgrown English muffin.

Chunky pumpkin?  Whaaa?  No, really- it was good. Plus, “pumpkin” in Oz just means squash. So this was made out of butternut or some other variety. If it makes a good soup, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t turn it into a delicious dip, as well.

 Mmmm… Lamingtons.  There’s not much to them. These things are just a bit of sponge cake covered with a thin layer of chocolate and a thin layer of coconut, but I had a nice fresh moist one the other day, and it was a real treat.  Well done, Australia!

Full disclosure- I haven’t tried the dip on the right yet, but I’m looking forward to it and I know it will be good. I’ve found a lot of tasty cream cheese-based dips here, like the salmon one on the left, and a crab and prawn one that I’m eating right now. I also spotted a sweet corn and red bell pepper dip that looks great. So many new things to try!  Stay tuned…

They eat WHAT???

This country has some delicious food. And some weird food.  And some of the same food, but with different names. What an adventure!

First, let’s look at some of this odd food. Apparently, aboriginals in the outback actually eat witchetty grubs.

They pull them right out of the ground and eat them, because they’re an excellent source of protein. But even the candy version looks a little gross to me. I’m going to pass on this one.

Remember those cute photos I posted of the kangaroos?  This is the first type of kangaroo I saw here. Also available: Kanga Bangas. Yes- bangers made out of kangaroo.

But there’s far more good stuff here than weird stuff. In fact, not only have I found nothing questionable in my counsins’ cupboards, (except that vegemite) I think I’ve wanted to try eating every other unique/new-to-me food I’ve found here. Now that foodie adventure could fill a few new posts already…

 

Green Sydney

One of the surprising things about Sydney for me is just how green it is. You assume that the largest city in a country will be a hot mess of concrete and glass, but while Sydney certainly has its fair share of tall buildings, the area is unexpectedly lush and green. It smells tropical, reminding me of LA.  And lining the rivers and bays leading to the city, the color green is predominant.

(This top photo was taken at “The Gap”- more on that in a future post!)

There are so many large and beautiful houses nestled into the greenery along the river, in fact, that you start to wonder how there can exist so many people who have enough money to live in them! It’s also very relaxing to have the option of taking a ferry into the city center, as well as the more standard transportation of trains and buses.  A scenic commute- who knew?

Vegemite

Here I am, happy as a clam.  It was a sunny morning a few days ago, and I was riding high on positive thoughts about Australia, Australian food, and my Australian cousins.

And then came Vegemite.

As it appears to be an Aussie institution and as he has otherwise been an excellent host, I just didn’t feel right in following through on my initial inclination to chuck the jar off David’s balcony when he offered it to me. But because I’ve been exposed to its evil cousin Marmite, I knew better than to slather it on until I couldn’t see the toast (as I would normally do with jam. “Want some toast with your jam?” would generally be an appropriate question to direct at me.)

So, at least I put it on the toast in its correct proportions (ie- one molecule per slice of toast). And it was still wretched. As you can tell by my face. But I ate it. So I can cross that one off my list and move on to things made of chocolate and caramel instead of insects. (Ok, technically it’s not made of insects, but that’s how it tastes. Salty insects. Yes… salty insects who’ve just come home from the pub. That’s it.)

Balmain Bugs

I ate this. No, really, I did! It’s like a little alien lobster. They’re supposed to be sweeter than lobster and crab, but it tasted about the same to me. Oh, and they leave the heads on seafood here when they serve it to you in restaurants. So if you order shrimp or fish, you’ve got to tear the head off it yourself when it’s sitting there on your dinner plate. As a person who avoids a lot of meat for both health and ethical reasons, this really reminds me that I’m eating something that used to be alive… because it’s sitting there on my plate… STILL LOOKING AT ME.   …shiver…

Sydney

I made it! Only 13 hours and 41 minutes. Not too bad considering it’s an overnight flight. And it’s always a game-changer when you get a whole row of seats to yourself to spread out and lay down to sleep for the “night”. Screw you, jetlag!!  🙂