Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Your Questions Answered Part 2

Well, yesterday's post went so well (at least I think it did...I haven't heard from ibbabs97 since posting. I'm hoping she's not too devastated by the Whataburger comments. Are you out there ibbabs97?)that I thought we'd continue along the same vein and make our way through another set of questions.

Today's set of questions come from Dana and here's what she wanted to know:

1.Do you miss certain foods from home?
2.Do they have Halloween there?
3. Do you use public transportation?
4.Are the houses similar there?
5.Do you use your Spanish much?
6.Are there signs in other languages everywhere like there are in Texas?

So as the Aussies would say, let's get stuck into it!

1. Do you miss certain foods from home?
Oh Dana, if you only knew. As I mentioned yesterday, I do miss a certain Texas hamburger chain (Whataburger for those of you just joining us), but my woe doesn't end there. The food I probably miss the most generally is anything of Mexican origin. Growing up along the Mexican border, Mexican food became an integral part of my daily diet. I think I may have possibly eaten tacos 4 nights out of 7 when I was attending Uni (that's college for you folks back home). Tex Mex, Real Mex just anything mildly related to Mexican food was a love of mine. I love Gorditas, Tamales, Fajitas, Tacos, Sal Picon, and the list goes on and on. So what I didn't say in yesterday's post is that I will often have Whataburger for lunch and Mexican food for dinner when I'm back in Texas. The Handsome Australian is a Mexican food lover as well...to be honest he's just a food lover in general, but he does show a preference for eating Mexican food when we are in Texas.

The unfortunate reality of Australia's geographic position is that it's no where near Mexico. That's probably only unfortunate for me, but there might be some Mexicans who'd like to see the kangaroos as well. I don't know. What I do know is that there are only a handful of Mexican restaurants in Melbourne and there is only one I can say I will eat at and be completely happy with my meal. I remember a few years ago I went on a quest to find a good Mexican food restaurant here and did a bit of digging around on the Internet. At some point I navigated to the Mexican Embassy website in Australia--by their count at this particular point in time there were only something like 500 Mexicans living in Australia. 500. That's it. What are the chances one of them has a really, really good restaurant somewhere. With my luck one probably does, but it's in Sydney. So this is a call out to all you Mexican cooks and chefs out there reading this blog--come to Australia. There is a gap in the market here--we need you to fill it. I swear I'll dine at your place every night. Just come!!

2. Do they have Halloween there?
The answer to this question is yes and no. Australians don't officially celebrate Halloween or recognise it as a holiday in their calendars. Having said that, there are pockets around the place where people do things to celebrate Halloween. There is enough American influence here through the television and film media that people are well aware of what Halloween is and most young people are somewhat keen to celebrate it--if only for the novelty of it. Also, Halloween is quite big in Ireland and there is a large Irish Expat population here as well.

Personally, I only began celebrating Halloween here when I had children because I wanted them to know the tradition and experience the fun of it. For the past three years we've attended a Halloween Festival run by a group of Expat Americans here in Melbourne. My neighbours always asked me lots of questions about the festival and about Halloween in general and so last year we got together and organised a neighbourhood trick-or-treat for the kids in our area. People who wanted to participate were asked to hang a sign on their front fences so the children would know which houses were handing out lollies. It was a big hit and we're continuing the tradition again this year.

3. Do you use public transportation?
The Handsome Australian utilises the public transport in Melbourne every day on his way to work. Up until recently we've only had one car between the two of us. The public transport in Melbourne is quite good (although the Handsome Australian will tell you upgrades are in order) and you can easily move around the city without owning a car if you want to. Whenever we have an event to attend in the City, we always take the train. It's easier, less hectic and you don't have to pay for parking. Perfect. So yes, we are big fans of public transport at our house.

4. Are the houses similar there?
I'd say the houses are similar, but on the whole the average house here is probably slightly smaller than it's counterpart in the USA. Of course the size of houses runs the whole gamut from tiny little shack to mansion and everything in between. Probably the greatest differences is the number of bathrooms. It's quite common for your average Australian home to have only one bathroom for the entire family. In fact, when the Handsome Australian and I were looking for a home to buy, we came across house after house that had the shower, bath and sink in one room near the bedrooms and the toilet in a little room outside the house. Literally an outhouse type of situation. As an American used to modern conveniences and homes with 2, 3 and even 4 bathrooms this kind of simplicity baffled me. I'm pleased to report we found a house with the toilet indoors, but we've only got one!!

5. Do you use your Spanish much?
As I said before, there might be 500 Mexicans in all of Australia and I don't know a single one of them. There is a relatively decent population of Argentines and Chileans as well as others from Bolivia, Columbia and other parts of Central and South America. The problem is I never seem to run into these people. So I don't use my Spanish much at all. This is another thing that I truly miss from living in the USA--Spanish surrounds you there. In fact, I love getting off the plane at LAX airport and hearing everyone speaking in Spanish.

6. Are there signs in other languages everywhere like there are in Texas?
I have to say that signs here are mostly in English, but you'll hear a whole bevy of languages being spoken when you are out and about. Australia is a nation of immigrants and most of the immigration has happened in the last 50 years. This means lots and lots of people still speak their native tongues. Walk through a local market here in Melbourne and you might hear Greek, Chinese, Indonesian, Croatian or any number of other languages being spoken by the shoppers. If you go to a neighbourhood that has a large population of a particular cultural group, then you'll find shops in these areas have signs in both English and the native language of the people who make up the community.

Thanks Dana for your thoughtful questions.

Whew! Another set under my belt. More answers to your questions tomorrow!


Annelise said...

I think I might die without Mexican food! Why not try your hand in the restaurant business? I believe you know someone in the business there...

Erin said...

Hey... a Sydneysider here! So, what is the name of the restaurant in Sydney that is so good? It might be the one I'm thinking of... in Surry Hills.

suzinoz said...

Annelise--I've thought about opening my own mexican restaurant, but I've seen the industry from the inside out and to be honest, I don't want to work that hard! =)

I don't actually know of a good Mexican place in Sydney, I was just saying if there is good Mexican in Australia somewhere it'd be my luck that it'd be in Sydney. Do you have any suggestions?

aussie said...

Mexican food is really a favorite of mine. In a week, I cannot live without getting some of it. I've been checking out some of the best restaurants in Melbourne to see what this city can offer.

suzinoz said...

Aussie--Good luck with your search for good mexican in Melbourne. The place we like is called Los Amates. Other than that, it's pretty hit or miss...mostly miss. Let me know if you find anything worth trying.