Although my life has changed significantly since my husband, Chris, and I moved to Australia, his life has gone through just as many changes. In our previous life, Chris was a Captain for Dekalb County Fire & Rescue in Atlanta. Long ago, when I would tell people this, a fair number of people would say, “that must mean he’s a great cook!” To which I would reply, “uh…not so much.”
Chris grew up in Brevard, North Carolina. It’s a small town located high in the Appalachian mountains of the Eastern United States. I’ve had great cooking in Brevard, however, it’s usually tamer dishes such as trout at the Fish Camp or a Burger at the local Sonic. As a child and as a grownup, my husband’s favorite meal has consistently been pork chops with kraft macaroni and cheese. I made him a macaroni and cheese from scratch once. I say once, because he didn’t like it. About his eating habits, he is fond of saying, “I like my food bland and my women hot.” (and that’s as far as we’re going with that.)
Eating is one area in which we are polar opposites. I’ll try just about anything. I come from a family that owned and operated a restaurant in Atlanta for over 50 years (which voluntarily integrated in the 60’s) so I had escargot and alligator sausage lovingly placed in front of me at a very young age. Indian food…love it! Ethiopian food…love it! Laksa…it makes me cry and I love it!
Because I have an interest in travel and food, I used to enjoy watching the Anthony Bourdain show, No Reservations, on the Travel Channel in the US. His show is fun because his focus is not on stuffy, expensive restaurants (although some do appear on the show) but rather on street food. He loves trying regular lunchtime dishes wherever he goes. Since he goes to some pretty exotic places, the idea of street food or a regular lunchtime meal varies radically. Although I was the one who started watching these shows, they struck a chord with Chris who started watching the show with me.
Since there is no Travel Channel in Australia, we’ve had a bit of Anthony Bourdain withdrawal. We’ve mentioned it to each other a couple of times, but I thought that was as far as this would go…until I booked our plane tickets for our trip to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia over Sydney’s labor day weekend.
Before the trip, Chris started talking about Anthony Bourdain and how Anthony had traveled to Singapore and Malaysia. Chris’s interest reached new heights on our trip. Both of us read Anthony’s first book, “Kitchen Confidential,” and we visited a couple of the places highlighted in the No Reservations shows. Somehow, being in these places allowed Chris to mentally step into Anthony Bourdain’s shoes which must have opened up some doors in Chris’s mind. Once we touched down in Singapore, I began to notice a dramatic change in Chris’s attitude towards food. It also helped that Singapore’s national dish is the basic and delicious, chicken-rice.
Once we were in Kuala Lumpur, Chris started trying any food I asked him to try. This included: soy milk with jello (Aussies know this as jelly), steamed fish head, extra spicy laksa and some green and blue beverage the name of which I still don’t know even though it was quite tasty. Not only did he try all this stuff…he did it with glee! When we had dinner on the street in Kuala Lumpur, Chris ordered a barbecued chicken dish. It was very spicy and he ate most of it. I know that it’s easy to throw away inhibitions on vacation so I wasn’t expecting this zeal for trying different stuff to make it back with us to Sydney.
Boy, was I wrong. We had lunch together on Friday and Chris mentioned that he had a surprise for dinner the next day. I didn’t ask what it was since I sometimes like surprises. When I came home that evening, he announced that we would be having Kangaroo for dinner the next day. For the first time in quite a while, I suddenly found myself out of my own comfort zone! Of course, I started twittering.
and, of course, my friends tweeted back:
This resulted in my husband deciding to marinate the steaks in teriyaki and pan sear them. After much bickering over pan temperature, how much oil, how long to cook each side, etc. we sat down to eat. Here’s a suggestion: if you pan sear any type of meat that’s red in the middle, don’t serve it with a bowl of white rice.
Chris was unable to decide exactly how he felt about his dinner, but he did eat most of the kangaroo. We’re planning on cooking this again and having it as a dinner salad instead. So what’s Chris’s verdict? “It wasn’t bad, but it was kinda chewy.”
I’m excited for my husband that he’s been able to embrace the place where we live and the places we’re traveling to the way that he has. He’s even managed to turn the tables on me and get me out of my own comfort zone. In the recently released movie, “The Kids Are All Right,” Julianne Moore’s character describes long term relationships as, “slogging through the shit, ” which I find to be a fairly accurate description. What makes a long-term relationship worthwhile is when you have somehow managed to stick together long enough to see each other through positive changes such as the one Chris has experienced. I’m not expecting him to ask me if I want to go for Ethiopian any time soon, but I’ll gladly let him cook me a kangaroo steak any day.