Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

First apricot of the season

November 17, 2009

Well, actually the second, but the first one I had tasted like woody water so we’re not going to count that.

Mum says they’ve been getting stonefruit in Queensland for weeks now. I really miss that climate! Bring on summer, with many sweet apricots.

Strange things about America

June 6, 2009

In which our heroine discovers that she may not be in Kansas anymore, Toto.

1. Most of the coffee is drip-filter (or ‘dripolator’, as Mum likes to call it), not espresso-based. At breakfast at my hotel in Santa Fe, waiters would wander around with jugs of filter coffee instead of taking orders for lattes. Incidentally, most of this filter coffee is pretty terrible. My room in the hotel has a drip filter machine (!)

drip filter

but doesn’t have a kettle, so I can’t make tea. (I’ve just checked in to my hotel in Albuquerque and it’s the same—drip filter, no kettle. Yet they’ve given me teabags…)

2. All the light switches I’ve seen are either upside down or sideways.


Not a huge problem, just a slightly amusing spectacle for any hidden watchers, as it usually takes me a few moments to figure out why the light’s not turning on.

3. This one is probably peculiar to regions with a lot of Mexican food, but they seem to like chilli with everything. I went to a pizzeria for lunch on Sunday and managed to get a beautifully made, authentic Italian-style pizza

pizza with chilli

which was served with a shaker of chilli flakes, just in case I couldn’t handle the thought of food without chilli. I mean, chilli has its place, but it’s not often you find it in Italian food.

4. Tipping. How much am I supposed to tip? Can I refuse to tip if the service wasn’t up to scratch? Should I tip more at a fancy restaurant? Is it truly voluntary if restaurants enforce a tip for parties over 6 people? WHY don’t they just up the prices of the food, and pay their staff a fair wage???

5. There is almost no fruit or veg. I’m staying in a hotel in the middle of town, so I’m eating out for every meal. Most places don’t serve fruit or veg at all where I’m used to finding it (e.g. salad on the side when you buy quiche for lunch), and when you do get it, it’s often a tiny serve. Heavily processed or seasoned or dressed. And there are no supermarkets, grocers or convenience stores within walking distance, so I can’t even stock up on apples for snacks. By contrast, in the middle of Sydney and Melbourne, every corner has an IGA that at least stocks apples.

Mind you, I’m probably getting enough vitamin C from the lime juice in all those margaritas I’ve been drinking. No scurvy here. If it worked for Captain Cook, it can work for me!

6. Salad is served before the meal. In Australia, salad is served as a side dish to a meal. In Europe, salad is apparently served after the main course. Here, salad is your entree. I guess we all have our different ways.

7. Speaking of entrees…every restaurant I’ve been to here calls the first course ‘Appetizers’ and the main course ‘Entrees’. In Australia, we call the first course ‘Entrees’ and the second course ‘Mains’ (or something similar). During my first few days in the US I was involved in several conversations with waiters where we managed to just confuse each other about what size meal I wanted. I started to wonder who had the terminology right, but a handy francophone assured me that entree does indeed mean ‘entry’, as in, the start of the meal. A useful thing to know, but I don’t think I’m going to be arguing the case with any waiters—the less confusion the better!

I guess this is the joy of discovering a new country. There’s lots of wonderful things, lots of interesting things, and a few things that just seem strange. But as I said—it’s all part of the fun!