I have to admit, when my fellow Canucks decided to do a food week, I cringed. When I try thinking about food I’ve eaten abroad, nothing really sticks out…and I don’t know why.
It’s not like I don’t try interesting things – I do! I swear… I’ve had traditional meals in almost every European country I’ve been in, I’ve tried snails in Paris and had the most excellent seafood I have ever eaten in Barcelona. But as I thought about it, nothing stuck out enough to write a whole post about it. I haven’t had that experience of wow, this is the best food ever, or absolutely hated anything. I just haven’t. I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to food…(except olives, those things are the most disgusting things on the planet).
And then someone reminded me of one of the most awesome experiences on my most recent trip to Australia. An authentic Australian Barbeque in the shadow of Uluru (aka Ayer’s Rock).
When we went to Australia we decided to take a tour for our time in the Center. We flew into Alice Springs and connected with our tour company. The one “extra” option on our tour was an Australian Barbeque… and it was $120 each!
We had to decide when we booked the tour if we were going to do this. So we had our trusty travel agent (have I mentioned how much more convenient it is to use a travel agent?) look into what was actually involved in this dinner – i.e. was it really worth the $120.
So we got the list of what was on the menu and then it said wine… Wine? What does that mean? One little glass? Or an unending supply through which we could get our money’s worth? Our cheap, Dutch blood may have come into play here…
We did a full day of touring around the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park ending with a sunset viewing of Uluru accommpanied by refreshments and drinks.
Then, those of us who had chosen to shell out the big bucks, were taken to the exclusive dinner that we’d paid for. We sat near the base of Uluru and were served wine as the sun disappeared and the night sky came out.
We were then served an absolute smorgasbord of Australian cuisine. It was an Australian Barbeque in the most Australian place I can think of. We were served steak cooked to order, prawns skewers, lamb sausages, chicken, and Kangaroo. My plate was full of more meat than I’d ever eaten in one sitting before. There was also a selection of salads – the type you would expect to find at a barbeque – potato salad, coleslaw, etc. But mostly meat.
The steak was excellent (though nothing beats Alberta beef), the prawns and chicken delicious. The lamb sausages were tasty but I can’t get over the fact that it’s lamb – it seems so much worse to eat than any other meat…
And then there was the Kangaroo. Kangaroo’s are a pest problem in Australia, there are simply too many of them, but as my cousin put it “there’s something wrong about eating our national symbol”. I have to agree. Driving through Australia you’re on the lookout to see wild kangaroo. And two weeks previously, I’d petted a kangaroo in the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. So yes, it felt wrong. But when in Rome…right?
It honestly wasn’t bad. You know how everyone says – it tastes like chicken? Kangaroo doesn’t. It’s much closer in flavour to beef, but on the gamier side. So I ate Kangaroo. It was something I had to do while in Australia and it tasted fine, maybe even good, but I can’t say that I’ll yearn for the taste again, mostly because of the mental ick factor.
Night set in while we were eating to the point where we could barely see our plates. The dinner concluded with the requisite dessert and we made sure we got our money’s worth of wine. But mostly, the cost was worth it based on the unbeatable locale. It was a great meal, don’t get me wrong, but the location and the view was what made the experience so memorable.
The evening ended with some star gazing. They tell you that the stars are completely different Down Under but you don’t really believe them. At least I didn’t, or maybe, more accurately, I didn’t believe I would be able to tell the difference. It’s not like I sit around gazing at the stars every night. But they are different and having someone point out to you what you’re seeing is amazing.
So we sat in the middle of the Outback, with no lights and no light pollution for miles. The night sky was clearer than I’ve ever been able to see before. And just with a single glance I could tell – the stars really are different.