If you have been following the tennis down in Melbourne, you may have noticed that it is summer here in Australia. And a bit of a warm one too. It isn’t quite as extreme here in Sydney as it is in other parts of Australia today – just hovering at around 28C in Sydney as I type – but it is warm enough to influence lunch.
As well as the Italians bringing good coffee to Australia, the immigration of southern Europeans, amongst others, into the country after WWII improved the food culture here immeasurably. It would be difficult to conceive or explain the current Aussie passion for food without acknowledging the contribution made by this wave of immigrants. Out with the old-fashioned English food staples and in with the richness and variety of the Mediterranean cuisines.
New Australian farmers started growing the foods they were familiar with and loved from their homes. Foods became available in markets and stores that a few years before were unheard of and Australians embraced them all. Not overnight, but change did come and we are thankful for that! Part of the change in food culture was also a change in eating habits – a gradual move outdoors and a real embracing of the café culture of the old world – something for which Australia with it’s warm and welcoming climate is perfectly suited. Again, it didn’t change overnight. As late as 1969 it was still against the city regulations to have outdoor seating at cafes in Canberra. But then again Canberra is so unique that it does deserve a blog post or two all of its own…
Things are certainly different in 2014. Try finding a seat at an outdoor café on a warm, clear day in Sydney. If you want one with an ocean view and aren’t prepared to sell your soul for it, forget it. Outdoor seating is a prime piece of real estate now, crowding the poor unfortunates who want to simply walk past out into the middle of the road where they block the view (those b*****ds!). People need to brunch here, can’t you see!
Back to lunch. Benefitting from the hard work all those people put in before me, I was able to drop into the local store and pick up some beautifully soft and creamy mozzarella, a ripe, deeply scented tomato and some basil and enjoy the salad in the picture above. Drizzled with the finest Australian olive oil, naturally.
It can be hard living here sometimes. But then again, maybe not.