Friday, 14 September 2012

Australia and Britain

Sometimes my father used to ring me in the
evening when we were eating dinner. 'What are you having?' he'd ask, his voice travelling across the distance from London to Canberra, and whenever I told him we were having oysters, he would give a quiet groan of longing, for he loved Australian oysters. 'Were they very expensive?' he would ask, hoping to make himself feel better by finding out that they were, but when I told him the price he would let out another groan - this time of envy, I suspect.

The thing is you can, of course, eat well in Britain. However, usually it costs a lot - even in your own house, as good butchers are growing scarcer over there and, where they do still exist, they are rarely inexpensive (and really fresh vegetables unencumbered by plastic casings are equally hard to find - at least in my experience). Also the variety of things to eat is not as great as ours is - this is self-evident when you look at a map of our huge country, and see how it contains a number of climates, which means we can grow so many different things. And, then, as well, there is our extensive coastline.

An example of the kind of thing you could not possibly hope to find regularly in your local fishmonger in Britain - and certainly not at a cost of a mere $8.99 a kilo (enough for at least two meals) - are the lovely Queensland scallops I've been getting lately. Here they are after having been steamed and had poured over them a bit of olive oil made by friends, in which some garlic, lemongrass and chilli has been cooked and into which lime juice and coriander leaves have been mixed:

On the other hand, you'd never find the nice plates on which the scallops are resting except on ebay uk.


  1. One of the best things about Britain and food is that being there gives you easy access to the excellent food of neighbouring countries - for example the wonderful crab sandwiches you get in Ireland (by comparison one we once tried in Scarborough was a huge disappointment), the huge variety of French cheeses (also available in Britain) and cheap but brilliant Austrian Gruener Veltliner (strangely, despite the EU, not available in Britain). I've never understood why, while very good Scottish oysters are widely available in British restaurants, you never see them for sale like in Australia all opened and ready to gorge on.

    1. I didn't think the Scarborough sandwiches were too bad, although the whole scene was a bit squalid really - and was it there that Anne Bronte was buried? Hellmuth claims there isn't enough Gruner Veltliner to export.