Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vegemite..A date gone wrong.

One sunny July afternoon in the leafy suburbs of Buenos Aires, Argentina, (that's where the Handsome Australian and I first met btw, catch up will ya?) I made my way to the swish pad of the Handsome Australian where I had been invited for a spot of afternoon tea. Upon arrival, the Handsome one welcomed me in to his home and led me to the balcony which overlooked a peaceful park below. We spoke a little about the neighbourhood and then he excused himself to the kitchen to put the kettle on.

I'm happy to admit that I'd never really been invited to anyone's house for a spot of afternoon tea before and I wasn't sure what to expect. In my mind I had images from British movies where stuffy people sit around and sip tea from lovely tea cups neatly arranged on their matching saucers and nibble on delicately prepared finger sandwiches. The Handsome Australian's spot of afternoon tea, while perhaps initially inspired by the British, was about to take a uniquely Australian flavour.

While I waited for the Handsome one to return from the kitchen, I made my self comfortable on his sexy (and I use that term very loosely) floral patterned couches that I think would have been more at home in my Grandmother's home instead of the bachelor pad of an Australian Expat. (While I have learned to question the Handsome Australian's style sensibilities over the years, he cannot be blamed for the couches, they came with the apartment). There were only a few channels of English speaking television you could get in Buenos Aires, if you had the money to be a cable television subscriber, and the Handsome Australian was a huge fan of BBC World. This was playing quietly in the background and I became intrigued with some vision I saw of a sport I didn't recognise, but gut instinct told me must be Cricket.

When the Handsome Australian returned from the kitchen, I began to inquire about the sport I'd just seen on the BBC. I described it to him--the players were dressed in white and were on a grassy field and there seemed to be a bat of sorts at play. Was this cricket is what I wanted to know? Instead of asking the question directly like that, I mistakenly asked, "So how is cricket played anyway?"

The Handsome Australian glowed with enthusiasm. He handed me my tea, cleared the coffee table between us and began constructing a cricket pitch with random bits of paper. This was the beginning of an hour long diatribe about how cricket is played. I sat patiently listening and nodding at the appropriate points in the conversation and even tossed out a semi-interested question or two--all in the name of infatuation. I wanted him to think I was interested even though secretly I was dying from boredom. Help! Somebody help me!!!! I thought to myself. How do I extricate myself from this terrible conversation.

As if he could hear the small cries that were bouncing around my head, the Handsome Australian's flatmate (who also happened to be Australian, but not as Handsome) entered the room in a silky Japanese style kimono that he was apparently using as a robe. He had just woken up from a peaceful slumber after a long night at one of the many Buenos Aires hot spots. It was nearly 3pm. We said our hellos and then he said...

Kimono Boy (hereafter KB): Oh I feel like a cuppa too. I think I'll go and make one and some vegemite on toast. Aw yeah, that will hit the spot.

He left the room and went to make his toast. Luckily his kimono became the topic of conversation between the Handsome one and I and I was saved from the longest history of the game of cricket ever known to man (or woman in this case, I reckon a guy might actually have been quite happy to listen to that monotony). He may have been wearing a kimono, but he'd saved me from dating disaster by redirecting our conversation so I had a soft spot for him in my heart. That was until....

He came back to the room with a hot cup of tea and a plate with two pieces of toast, a jar of vegemite, some margarine and a spreading knife. He proceeded to spread a piece of toast with the margarine (pretty liberally I'd say) and then dipped the knife in the jar of vegemite and spread what appeared to be a minuscule amount of this awful tar-like substance ever so delicately over the top of the margarine.

I was watching this ritual with great interest as I'd always heard of vegemite but had never tasted it before. Kimono boy noticed my interest and offered me a piece of his toast. The Handsome Australian got very excited.

HA: "Oh yeah, you've got to try this. It's great. We Aussies (pronounced Ozzies) love it."

KB: "Well before she tries it, you'll need to warn her that it's actually quite salty. It almost takes like brine."

HA: "Here mate, pass her a piece. (Handing me a piece of KB's toast. ) Go ahead, try it, I think you'll like it."

Me: Tentatively accepting the piece of toast handed to me. Staring at it for a second before placing it curiously in my mouth. Then I chewed and chewed and chewed. Then I swallowed it. And I said, "Yes, it certainly does have a very distinct flavour. Give me a minute. I'm trying to place it." Pondering the flavour for a second then, "Yes, I think I've got it. That's the taste that you get in your mouth immediately before you vomit."

KB: Taking my observation very seriously, "Yes, I know the taste you are talking about and there may be a similarity here, but that's not exactly it."

HA: Laughing to himself, "So you're not a fan then?"

Me: I can't believe this is all going so poorly. Water, water, some one give me water!!!! "No, I think it's safe to say that I'm not. Please, never let me taste that again. I'm serious. Yuck."

What a waste of an afternoon I thought as I said my goodbyes later in the day and left the Handsome Australian's place.

I promised myself not to waste another minute with this cricket loving Aussie and his disgusting vegemite.

Fast forward 10 years later and I'm married to the Cricket Loving Fool a.k.a. The Handsome Australian and we have a tube of vegemite safely tucked away in our newly ordered pantry. Do I ever let this bit of standard Australian fare pass my discerning lips? Stay tuned....

Learn the Lingo
spot of afternoon tea = an opportunity to drink tea/coffee and presumably consume a small snack like biscuits or sandwiches, etc

biscuits = cookies

vision = video

BBC World = British Broadcasting Corporation World news channel, think CNN International

flatmate = housemate or roommate

Cricket = click here to read about it if you have an hour...don't feel compelled!!

cuppa = cup of tea or coffee

vegemite = a yeast extract used as a spread, one of the best sources of Vitamin B


KLS said...

LOL at the tastes like vomit. I totally agree! I think I remember Ava O. liking it though....

Annelise said...

I was at your flat during this date and might I add the following observations:
- you said that you would never see the H.A. again because of the cricket convo (*convo that is American slang for conversation, haha)
- KB also has a better nick name as the "incident of which we must never speak of again"
- You can't say much about his couches as it took you forever to finally purchase a sofa of your own and it was about the size of an Ottoman

Give my love to the Handsome Australian's children and give a tug on the ear lobe would you mate?