Wednesday, September 24, 2008

8 years and still learning....

As I've mentioned many times before here, I've been living the Expat life in Australia for 8 years now. In those 8 years, I've managed to learn quite a bit about the Australian culture. Yes, of course, I spent the first one to two years just trying to work out what people were saying to me most of the time, but after the initial language hurdles I really started to settle in to the everyday life here. (I'm only half kidding here by the way) You'd think after 8 years you'd have probably come across most things--I've lived through eight calendar years so I am familiar with the odd but welcome public holidays that come around every so often (Melbourne Cup Day for instance--LOVE IT!!) . I've witnessed several federal elections. I've bought and sold real estate. I've received medical attention. I've attended university classes. I've been to the footy, the cricket, the rugby. I've been employed casually. I've been employed full time. I've been unemployed. I've eaten in many, many, many a restaurant (a weakness the Handsome Australian and I have).

The point is, once you've been here for this amount of time, things don't seem new anymore. The learning curve has flat lined. I'm on a plateau. A really long plateau. That is, I was on a plateau until Friday night when I learned some completely new and somewhat revolting things. Well, revolting to me anyway.

The Handsome Australian and I were at the footy with Brother number 4 and a group of his mates. Somehow the conversation turned to vegemite as it so often does here in Australia. They can't seem to get enough of the salty black stuff. That's all they eat, it's all they talk about--they are crazy vegemite lovers!!! Okay, so maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, but you'd be surprised at how often it does turn up in conversation here. Maybe it doesn't turn up in conversation that much, but any conversation about vegemite is too much conversation as far as I'm concerned. But enough about my deep seeded dislike of the stuff, on to more important things...

The conversation went something like this:

Friend 1: "Have you ever tried vegemite on toast with avocado slices before?"

Me: "No, I can't say that I have. I don't eat vegemite full stop."

Friend 1: "Really? You don't eat it? At all?"

Me: "No, I can't stand the stuff."

Handsome Australian: "Hey, tell them what you said to me when I gave you vegemite for the first time."

The group waits with anticipation...

Me: "Well, when I first tasted vegemite, I said 'it tastes like the taste you get in your mouth right before you vomit'."

Friend 2: "Oh, well how did you have it? (Questioning the Handsome Australian) Did you give her a really thick spread of it or something?"

HA: "No, I actually introduced it to her properly. I spread margarine on some toast and then put little dabs of vegemite all around. It was very subtle. She still hated it."

F2: "Well, you can't have someone else spreading your vegemite for you. That's a dangerous thing. You have to spread your own vegemite. Vegemite spreading is a very personal thing. Everyone knows just how they like it. You simply have to do it yourself."

Me: "Funny you should say that because I make vegemite sandwiches for our daughter EVERY DAY and because I don't eat the stuff, I really have no idea how to make it. So I just spread the margarine on the bread and spread heaps and heaps of vegemite on top of it. The Handsome Australian saw me doing this one day and indicated I was too heavy handed with the vegemite, but now our daughter loves it that way."

F1: "Have you ever given her vegemite and avocado before?"

Me: "No. (quietly cringing to myself and wondering why you'd ruin a good avocado like that) I haven't tried that."

Friend 3: "Well I personally can't stand peanut butter. Can't eat it."

F1: "Yeah, I think I've had it once in my life."

Me: (Not believing what I'm hearing) "Peanut butter once?? Really??"

F1: "Yeah, it just doesn't appeal."

Me: "It doesn't appeal, but vegemite appeals??" (What planet are these people from? Oh yeah planet Australis. Crickey they really do love their vegemite.)

HA: (interrupting what could have become a very ugly debate about the virtues of peanut butter vs. vegemite) "Hey what about peanut butter and vegemite together? Now that's really nice."

F3: "Peanut butter and vegemite? That's disgusting."

I'm thinking: Sing it sister!! Finally an Australian with some sense when it comes to vegemite!

F2: (Jumping up and down and smiling with glee) "Oh my God! Oh my God!! I LOVE peanut butter and vegemite together. I've never met anyone else who ate it that way. That is so cool!!"

HA: (clearly excited as well and perhaps thinking he may have chosen the wrong soul mate) "Yeah, I've always had it that way since I was little. Love it." (still smiling)

F2: "That is awesome."

F1: "Well I still say avocado and vegemite is the best."

F2: "Oh avocado and vegemite would be good with peanut butter."

This is the point in the conversation where I had to excuse myself to the ladies so I could VOMIT!!! (except if I did that, I would get that taste in my mouth...that vegemite taste...ahhh!!!!) I can't think of anything less appetising than vegemite with peanut butter and avocado.

Just when you think you've heard it all. You've been there. You've done that. Then someone throws a curve ball like that at you.

Are they serious?

Learn the Lingo
full stop = period (This is actually how they say the punctuation as well--for instance in the USA we'd say, "Sharon, you forgot to put a period at the end of that sentence." In Oz they'd say, "Shaz, you forgot to put a full stop at the end of that sentence.")


Annelise said...

I am more shocked that PB is not a wide spread treat? Who doesn't like the PB!? Anti-American I say...oh....wait a minute...

KLS said...

You had me laughing at this post :)
I'm pretty sure that vegemite is something I'd NEVER eat.

Maddie said...

OK and I gotta say - I do like vegemite. And vegemite and avocado actually does sound good! I might have to try that. My Mum raised me on vegemite broth and toast for sick days.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

My three year old loves vegemite-- the four year old doesn't. I still have not tried it, and thanks to you-- I will not for sure.

Why eat vegemite when I can just vomit instead? Hahaha.

Peanut butter on the other hand-- yum!

suzinoz said...

FGIS-I've also got one little one that loves vegemite and one that doesn't. They both like peanut butter though. =) The only positive I can see with vegemite is that you can send it in a school lunch as peanut butter is basically banned everywhere now because of allergy concerns.