Picky Eating in a Foreign Country

So, presuming most of you reading this blog know me at all, you’ll know that I have a very particular taste in foods. Many of you would describe this as little to no taste at all. Sorry I have acid reflux and food hates me, guys, sorry.

However, most proposed that this would have to change when I came to Australia. I don’t see it that way, but I certainly am having to learn a new maze of what to ask for and avoid.

My first day here was a whirlwind, as my post here. When we visited the mall, I was a bit overwhelmed with the food court selection, so I tried to avoid problems by ordering something I considered “safe:” a chocolate milkshake and pepperoni pizza. Needless to say, it left a lot to be desired. The pepperoni was salami instead of pepperoni, which under normal circumstances would have been fine, but it was crazy spicy. I could only finish one piece. The milkshake was basically really cold thick chocolate milk. I drank it all, hoping it would prevent problems from the pizza.

Next day, I went to the farmer’s market of sorts that is in one of the parking lots here at La Trobe every Sunday morning. THIS was an excellent choice. Not only were there a million dogs which reminded me of my adorable best friend at home, but there was also this sandwich.

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LOOK AT ALL OF THE BACON. It was delicious, I could only eat half of it there was so much bacon. Deliriously awesome. I followed this up with some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

When I returned a little later with some of my new friends, we went to the coffee/hot chocolate stand again, but I wanted coffee this time. Coffee is a little different here. It certainly isn’t Starbucks, and isn’t even Lakota. I ordered a macchiato. This turned out to be the most bitter shot of coffee I could have possibly asked for. It was energizing. But I could only sip down half of it. Mochas from now on. Even those aren’t guaranteed delicious.

Monday rolls around. I go to this place called Xpresso, which turns out to be what I think will be my standard. They have delicious ham and cheese croissants and mochas I add butterscotch to that are delicious. This doesn’t mean I still don’t want to find my Australian equivalent to a white chocolate mocha with peppermint. Because you just can’t beat that.

Tried a different pizza on Tuesday- another misstep. It wasn’t bad it just still isn’t home. It had a very weird sauce that tasted barbecue-esqe on a “meat lovers” pizza. I didn’t ask what meats were included.

Our group wanted to go to the city and find a bar and some food. I suddenly got a weird craving for Mexican food while we rode the tram in. No, Australia probably isn’t the best place to look for tacos, especially just ones with cheese, meat and shell, which I still have issues ordering at Taco Bell sometimes. (“just cheese and meat” “so do you want the shell?” “….yeahhh….”)

We ended up at a swanky looking place called Senoritas. Walking in we look around and are convinced this place will cost a million dollars. Their drink menu is a little hard to decipher, and I’m doubting there is a single sweet fruity beverage on it. I go with a standard margarita, hoping it will be like Kelly’s. It wasn’t. It was incredibly strong.  I didn’t finish it by the end of the night.

We aim to order and get brought food menus. We had like 3 waiters attending to us, but mostly because the place only had 2 other parties there. One waiter explains to us that what he really likes to do is get a feel for what the group has a taste for and kind of order for them. I say that I don’t really like spicy food, and he jokingly (or so it seemed) says I came to the wrong place. I soon found out this was no joke.

We all order one appetizer style dish, which the waiter then changes and we all end up kind of sharing four dishes that were close to what we had originally ordered. The only thing I really enjoyed was the dish I had tried to order on my own…with all of the jalapenos and peppers picked out, obviously. Everything else would have been great…except my mouth was on fire. I don’t know how many glasses of water I put down. It was a lot.

I’m not sure what it was, but we must have looked lost and pathetic, because the bartender gave us all complimentary shots of something that I’m nearly certain came straight from Satan’s liquor cabinet. It was tequila, I think, and dear God…I felt it in my nose (not like it went up my nose, it was just that potent).

I think our waiter could tell I was suffering because he asked how I was and I said hanging in there. He brings out a shot glass full of something milky. He said it contained sweetened condensed milk, guava juice and cinnamon. I don’t think I’ve tasted anything more satisfying and perfect after such a meal. It was heavenly.

The bill turned out to be not so bad, about $30 per person, though we didn’t ask them to split it, so it seemed a little daunting.

I went grocery shopping which wasn’t as bad as I thought, but there definitely aren’t any brands from home (except Nesquik, which was good cause there is no comparable product to Hershey’s syrup) and ice cream prices make me want to cry. Meat is actually pretty cheap, especially lamb, which I’ve only made once, solely in preparation to come here.

Alcohol is expensive here, but the reasoning is that it’s heavily taxed, which means I don’t mind it so much. Last night at the pub I got two ciders (which were nothing like American ciders, halleluiah) that tasted like champagne called Cheeky Rascal. I got a kick out of that. It’s a little stronger here than at home, but I’m always very conscious of my limits, no matter what country I’m in.

Still figuring it out. I’m sure I’ll be ordering in a cafe like a pro in 6 months…on the day I’m headed back to the airport.

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