Every time I have studied pictures and recipes of "Thai Curry" or "Shiitake Stir Fry" I have been watching foodporn. Who knew? I love food, and apparently foodporn as well. I suppose there are worse vices than collecting images of the perfect pasta bake.
So what does that have to do with Australia and bullsh!t detectors?
A while ago, but not too long ago, there was this thing called a "restaurant". When you got hungry, you turned up at a "restaurant" and because you were in Melbourne, the erstwhile capital of good food, pretty much everything was nice quality, cheap and didn't give you food poisoning.
You could even go to a restaurant and be handed a menu instead of getting it Ninja thrown at the side of your face and one could have a smoke after the meal without freezing one's proverbial off.
But then something happened... Something that needs to be addressed, stopped and reversed immediately on pain of death.
A Fish and Chip shop became a "Fish and Chippery", which gave the owner licence to turn a massive $2 butcher's paper roll of gargantuan chips into a dinky twerpy little folded box with 12 chips in it. For $5.
They started calling places "Boumerange" instead of restaurant so they could charge $9.50 for a scone.
...and I don't even like scones.
Just the other day at a nice looking establishment I ordered a muffin that was doughy and uncooked, and pretty much inedible, but for some reason I was supposed to bask in the rare privilege of being seen in the luminous presence of a hideously overpriced dogbox, and it would have made no difference had I complained because they were all out the back watching Masterchef on their iPads.
So somewhere along the way it stopped being about making food that customers actually liked, and became about the "Head Chef" (formerly known as a "Chef") trying to work out his signature dish so he can get a Michelin star one day in the near distant never never never ever.
And now restaurants have gone from cosy, welcoming eateries to some kind of futuristic veterinarian's operating table so you have to strain trying to see the menu properly with the sun gleaming off 10 metres of burnished steel that is powerful enough to signal the "Spirit of Tasmania" on its return journey.
On top of this, you have the indignity of having to dress up like a sulfur crested cockatoo in mating season to get the waiters to notice you signalling them, and by that stage you have given up and gone to Bakers Delight.
The irony of being treated like crap by someone who is being exploited for $8 and hour cash-in-hand under the table, just so they can say they work at "Wankella By The Bay" and presumably impress someone who gives a rat's arse is beyond any kind of logic.
So what happened? We became try hards. That's right. Ponces. Twerps. Snobs, dorks, pretentious bogans. There's probably no going back now, at least for those already compromised.
Perhaps it was the introduction of Foxtel to Australia. Foxtel brought us American game shows, talk shows, cooking programs, reality shows, fear (I mean "current affair") shows and "Fair and Balanced" (aka. "propaganda") news reporting.
Can it be all traced back to Rupert Murdoch, who, through the medium of TV, newspapers and more TV, is attempting to turn us into American talk show audience members from "Donahue". Possibly?
I'm not quite sure of the exact connection but I'm sure it's there somewhere.
The United States on the other hand, has developed shows like "Mad TV" and "Reno 911", demonstrating not only a rudimentary understanding of irony, but a full mastery, worthy of Blackadder's finest hours.
Australia is fast losing its sense of irony, sarcasm, wit and ridicule in favour of ignorance, apathy and cashed-up-bogan-ness.
The world is upside down, it seems.
Oh and just to add insult to injury:
McDonalds and Dominoes have "head chefs" apparently (yes, his name is Joshua and he has a rather virulent strain of acne), and these "restaurants" now have "SIGNATURE DISHES". I had to write that in capitals just so you could read the start of the sentence again and try and put it with the end of the sentence without banging your head on the nearest table.
So... to clear up a few points...
No, I'm not into the "Slow Food" movement, I actually just need to cook this for a long time because that's how the recipe goes.
I do not want "Smashed Potatoes" ferfuggssake!! It's a potato that has been squashed. If you tell me it tastes any different I will test out the theory that plates of smashed potatoes hurt more than plates of mashed potatoes when thrown at someone's face.
I like sun dried tomatoes. I think the distinction "semi-dried tomatoes" is taking it a bit too far. They look the same as the sun dried ones but cost $2 more a kilo.
I don't really want any quinoa. Or kwweeenwaaaaahhhhh!! Or however the crap you say it. I don't even like porridge and I will probably like it less with the introduction of a grain that tastes weird and soapy unless you soak in under a banana leaf for 14 hours and wash it with baboon tears until clean.
A barista is another word for "wanker". I don't care how many times you get the "perfect drip", you are one.
Let me reiterate:
And finally, I will most definitely be skipping the "Marinated Feta With Bush Dust". I mean seriously, I love feta. But bush dust? It conjures up images of bulls, dust and the inevitable movements of bulls after eating too much grass. Perhaps the bull made the mistake of eating "Grass Jus With Strawberry Cow Pat Couli", I suppose that would explain the urgency.
I will leave you with a memory of what Australia once was, and perhaps a brief glimmer of what it could become, if we just put down the truffle mandolin and start again: