Kev in Aus

Chronicling the misadventures of a Canadian traveling through Australia. There's seemingly far too many of us!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

13 Rules for Dining in an Italian Restaurant

1 - If you're dining in an Italian restaurant, always assume the waiting staff is completely fluent in Italian. If you see a fellow who looks Asian working there, he was probably born in Milan, and just moved here last week. Always speak to them in Italian. It makes you look cool, and really impresses the staff.

2 - If you don't speak Italian, please try your best attempt at ordering your food in an Italian accent, and say the Italian name of the food. Who cares if you're ordering simply Fish and Chips? You want to say "Frittura di Pesce con Patatine" in your best Italian voice so everyone knows you're the super-est person sitting at that table. The wait staff may even give you free food if you do!

3 - Always make a show of 'testing' the wine before drinking it. Swirl it around in the glass, sniff it, and say something like, "Oh, I hear the 2003 crop was excellent in Western Australia". Not only will the staff be happy to serve it to you, it's very likely that they, and the other people at your table, will offer you sexual favours for showing them how worldly and sophisticated you are.

4 - If you're with a large group of people, say 12 or more, always order your drinks, then as soon as the waiter has gone to place your order, move around to talk to different people at the table, or better yet, just move seats permanently so you can chat with your work buddy before they get back. It keeps the wait staff on their toes, and they LOVE testing their facial recognition skills out as often as they can. Bonus point: If they do find you right away, simply move to the next seat when you order your next drink.

5 - Likewise, if you're in a big group, when the wait staff comes with your food or drink order, and they're looking around shouting out what the food is obviously looking for who ordered it, completely ignore them, even if they're actually standing right above you. This is especially true if it's not actually the waiter that took your order, but the runner who's job it is to run food out to people. Wait staff actually have a telepathic link to everyone else in the place, so they shouldn't need your help anyways.

6 - When the person bringing you your food has 3 plates balanced precariously on one arm and one more plate in their other hand, it's considered an affront to them personally if you take the single plate out of their hand to help them. Good wait staff should be able to balance 9 plates of super hot food on their arm without any assistance from you, and you shouldn't have to do anything to enjoy your food. In fact, if you ask nicely, most wait staff will actually chew your food for you!

7 - If your waiter is at a table across the room, and you need another water RIGHT AWAY, it's OK to yell across to him/her that you'd like another water. It's also acceptable to snap your fingers, or throw uneaten buns at them to get their attention. Waiters don't have anything better to do than to serve you and you alone.

8 - If the restaurant is obviously closing, please feel no rush to leave the premises and take your conversation about the weather, or whales, or your last trip to Sweden elsewhere. Waiters don't do anything after work, and most of them live in the back 24 hours a day. They frequently stack tables and chairs for no apparent reason anyways. It helps them to build upper-body strength and learn much needed hand-eye coordination (See rule 6).

9 - If your food comes out undercooked, or maybe not tasting the way you were expecting it to, it is SOLELY the waiter's fault and he should be reprimanded, preferably in front of everyone in the restaurant. The chefs likely pleaded with the waiter to make it the way you wanted it to, but he/she would have none of it, and probably threatened the chef's family if they didn't do as he asked. They also like to have their mistakes pointed out, to better serve you next time you come in, and will, in all likelyhood, swear fealty to you for the remainder of their mortal lives.

10 - Wait staff are fountains of knowledge about the food at other restaurants around them. If you're looking for the best seafood place around the area, just ask anyone who works at a restaurant that doesn't serve any seafood. While you'd think that they would prefer to eat at their own restaurant, a place that usually gives them either a huge discount, or even a free meal with their shift, most wait staff actually like to go out and spend their money at the other overpriced restaurants in the area so they can tell people who come to their eatery where the best OTHER place is to get food.

11 - In the same vein, all wait staff are given detailed maps of the area within a 5 block radius of their restaurant, so they can tell people where the nearest *Insert Bank Name Here* ATM is, where they can hire a boat, or where the nearest latin-themed gay dance club is. Most people who work at restaurants are actually part-time tour guides, and love nothing more than to tell people where to go.

12 - If you have severe allergies to basic foods, like garlic or shellfish or grains, don't even bother telling anyone who works at the restaurant. Most Italian food has none of that in it anyways, and if it does, then they obviously hate you and want you dead. It's always best to mention this as you're shovelling your 3rd garlic prawn into your mouth, then demand that you won't pay for your meal. This is why restaurants pay insurance anyhow, so feel free to milk the system.

13 - Wait staff like nothing more than to recommend food to someone they don't know. Most of them will be fairly forthright in saying that the Chicken Parmigiana tastes like recycled monkey feces, and you're better off eating at Maccers. This is doubly true if, after each suggestion, you say something like, "Yeah, but I don't like chicken" or, "But I'm a vegetarian". It's required, by law, for waiters to actually be able to read the minds of the people they serve, and be able to tailor a meal to their individual tastes. If they are unable to, report them to the authorities, who will likely offer sexual favours for turning in such contemptable scum.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Kenya Feel the Excitment???

So some news that, I'm sure, very few people in Canada actually know, Canada is in the World Cup of Cricket! Whee!


Yes, well, they are. Actually, they've been in it once before in 1995 where they actually made it to the semifinals, and they played against Kenya yesterday. Sadly, they lost by 7 wickets. I'm not going to take this time to explain to people the rules of cricket, but very basically, a team has 10 wickets ("outs" basically) and the opposing team gets 50 "overs" (an over is when the hurler throws the ball 6 times) and they have to get as many runs as they can in 50 overs without getting their wickets knocked off. Then they switch, and the other team gets a try. It's actually a pretty interesting spectator sport, as the games last different lengths, some literally lasting for 5 days. Of course, the only thing to do during these games is to drink huge quantities of Aussie beer. I would liken it to being a much better sport to watch then baseball, but not quite as interesting as Canadian football, which I compare to having sex. 5 minutes of planning for 10 seconds of furious action after which I usually end up at the bottom of a pile of people.


Anyhow, it was a close game, so hopefully Canada can come back and win a couple and not get knocked out in the first round. They play England on Sunday, and sadly, England and Australia are pretty much the ones that people are betting on (West Indies and South Africa are the other 2 possible winners), so we'll have to see how they fare. Go Canada!

Come on people, you should be proud of your country doing so well in a sport that very few people born in Canada even know how to play!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Finally! Random Pictures!

OK, I'm not even going to bother writing a big long intro, in case things go horribly awry. Here goes...

Alright, the first picture of many... this is a shot of the beach on the island. Just around the corner on the right is the jetty, the site of many a night-time dive (almost always drunken, and usually near a random reef shark). This would have been at around low tide. At high tide, the brown rocks on the left would be covered with water. Also, ignore the time in the lower corner, it wasn't actually 6am when this picture was taken. My camera had some problems with is before it gave up the ghost.

Not a reef shark, I'm not exactly sure what this is. Shawna and I were walking along the beach in ankle deep water when this curious fellow happened by. He asked us for some change, but we had none. He then swallowed a whole turtle, and grinned impishly. The whole scene was very surreal.

Turtle! This one was probably not eaten right away, as there were no seagulls or sharks in the immediate vicinity. However, there's a pretty good chance he was eaten. Circle of life and all that. Stop crying.

So Australia Day was January 26th, and to celebrate, they had a cricket match between Aussies and the Rest of the World (basically Aussies vs Kiwis, with 1 Canadian - Shawna. I was working this day). Anyhow, Shawna apparently did O, but kept dropping the bat, owing to years of baseball and the busting of kneecaps. So this picture was taken after she hit the ball, and the dude with the perplexed look on his face was going to catch the ball, essentially making Shawna 'out', but she knocked the ball out of the air at the last second with her hand. He was less than impressed. Keep in mind that this game was interrupted by not one, but 2 streakers, so it wasn't exactly the Ashes tournament. Look it up, you cricket-hating bastards.

Oh, wouldn't you like to hear the story behind this one....

Just a pic of downtown Nimbin, the bustling metropolis that it is. It's really laid-back, and VERY political, which may sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but they're more interested in politics than any other group of people I've ever met.

After visiting Nimbin, we ended up in a rainforest that this ONE botanist planted 20 years ago. Before he was there, it was all scrubland and vast meadow, now it's 300 hectares of protected parkland, full of wildlife and trees of all sorts. This dude lived here, miles away from civilization near a lagoon, and just did his daily thing. I guess that involved a lot of talking to himself, and laughing maniacally. Seriously, this guy was interesting, but a little out of sorts. Anyways, we hung out and ate macadamia nuts from the shell (contrary to popular belief, macadamia nuts are not native to Hawaii, they were brought from Australia years ago. In fact, most of the macadamia stuff you can buy in Hawaii is actually imported from Australia. Isn't learning fun?) and listened to his ramblings about how many species of what-have-you lived in his little corner of the Earth. I don't remember a word of it though.

This will be my final picture of this post. To those of you who think that Australia is all outback desert and coastal beaches, this should dispel such thoughts like demons from a recently exorcised child. Anyways, I snapped this while I was travelling by train from Byron Bay to Sydney last week. Beautiful rolling hills, and lots of trees, cows and dirt.

I'd like to take this opportunity to mention that taking the train anywhere is quite possibly the nicest way to travel. It's cheap (cheaper than taking a bus in Oz, as a matter of fact), roomier, and you get to wander around, and head to the mess car if you get hungry. I will be taking the train as often as I can now. Very much a more personal experience running through the countryside.

So that's the next big lump of pictures. Tune in next week when we look into why Aussies call ketchup 'Tomato Sauce' and call tomato sauce 'The Tool of the Devil'.

Cheers mate!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

It Feels Like Home Again...

Well folks, I'm back in business. After staying in Byron Bay for a couple weeks with nothing happening, I've headed back into Sydney, found a job, and cheap accomodation. I'll be doing this for a couple months I figure, then head off to parts undetermined.

It's funny, after spending a month and a half away from Sydney, and trying to find work out in the small towns, I've found that it's just not me. I like being a small fish in a big pond. I reckon it's mostly because I do a lot of bone-headed things, and it's nice to be anony-moose when I do.

Byron Bay is beautiful, and I can't wait to go back again to check out some of the sights again. You can kayak with dolphins, hang glide, go on winery tours, and all that other touristy stuff, which I never got a chance to, since I was trying to save money. Next time, Byron. Next time...

In the meantime, I'm working hard, saving money, hardly going out (it's true! I'm like a hermit crab! Er... without the changing shells when I grow bigger I suppose. So nothing like a hermit crab. I don't know why I said that), and relaxing in the big city. It's just nice to be able to go see a movie when I want to, or go grab some Thai food or pizza if I want, and I missed that.

Anyways guys, I do still have pictures that I'm going to post, but I'm just at a public terminal now with no access to them. I'll throw some on in the next couple days, I promise!


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Frustration Sets In...

Ok, I have just spent the past hour editing a blog entry, and having pictures uploaded (taking forever in this crappy internet cafe) only to have the entire entry mysteriously vanish into electrons and pixels. *sigh* OK, well, quick update: I'm alive, I have pictures, and I'm still in Byron Bay.

Next post forthcoming soon, possibly tomorrow.