Catching your dinner and aussie rules

Trip Start Jul 22, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Saturday, August 9, 2008

I knew I was in for a good meal when the very first thing on the menu was a warning that the restaurant management could not take responsibility for the damaging or cleaning of clothes. What the hell had I let myself in for?

I had gone to a teppanyaki place for Casey's birthday. Seven of us in total, all of us novices and unsure of what was to follow. Forgive me if you've visited this type of establishment before, I'd not even heard of one, so i'm going to work on the basis you're all as ignorant as i was.

Put very basically, you all sit round a hot plate, and your meal is cooked right there in front of you by a rather talented and personable chef. A Japanese interactive barbecue if you will, the interactive part I will come onto.

Our chef was a very jolly fellow called Ming. As soon as I said jolly, i bet you all assumed he was fat didn't you? Well, you're not wrong as such but shame on you for assuming it! Ming introduced himeself to us as he greased up the hot plate and then slapped on raw prawns, chicken and calamari (squid). Talking to us the whole time, and flaring with the pepper grinder he went on to effortlessly head and tail the prawns and then remove the intestinal vein in smooth movements. This was in sharp contrast to my very clumsy efforts in consuming my starter with the standard chopsticks. 

Talking us through each process Ming added various sauces and served us the prawns, the calamari and then the chicken in turn, as each became ready. I was very surprised to find that calamari, when not battered and shaped into tough, chewy onion-ring-type entities like you buy in takeaways is actually something i'd eat again. He then threw onto the hot plate a steak, which he cooked to perfection, and to flavour just chucked the equivalent of a glass of red wine over it, creaing a very pleasing sizzle. I like sizzles.

All very well and good. However then Ming said we were going to have some he proceeded to create a six - egg omelette strewn along the hotplate, and here's where the interaction started. Ming carelessly chopped the omelette up into [roughly] bite sized pieces and proceeded to throw it at us. If we didnt catch it in our mouths, we wore it - as simple as that. Firing the ovule around the table, some of us catching with more success than others, he got to Casey, who doesnt like egg, and therefore asked for none. Unbeknownst  to Casey [she says], the chef had told her he was going to keep throwing egg at me until she agreed to catch one, and so he did. Not giving me chance to eat the previous i had about 8 bits flirted at me, a couple of which made it to my mouth, most of which landed on my shirt, one in my wine and one i hope didnt annoy the woman walking behind me too much.

That done, we also had to catch bowls, this time in our hands im glad to say, 5 each in quick succession, initially empty and then full of rice, a game which i proved to be, well, not that succesful at, cue comments about poms and cricket skills - we'll show them at the next ashes, we'll show them. I've realised I keep using the word 'pom' and haven't explained myself. To anyone not sure, 'pom' is what Australians call English people, there are many ideas why this word has come about but the most popular is that it stands for 'Prisoner of her Majesty' or 'Prisoner Of Mother England', from the days when English people were sent to Australia as punishment for a crime they had committed.

The rest of the meal passed pretty cleanly, and everything ended in my mouth. It wasnt cheap, but was worth it for the entertainment you got, and the food tasted pretty epic too. It was also nice to have an excuse for the food stains on my chest.

The day prior to this Casey had taken me to see the Geelong Cats, destroy the Melbourne Demons at Aussie Rules Football. Im going to attempt to explain this sport, which is played onlyin Australia (pretty much, although i believe Ireland have a couple of teams) and is nothinglike football over in the UK - and the rest of the world except for America - but who cares about them ;o)

For a start, AFL players use their hands as much as, if not more than their feet. They choose to either handball (hit the ball eithe their fist) to another player or kick it to them. If they kick it to them and the ball goes more than 15metres and they teammate catches it cleanly its called a mark, in which case no-one can tackle that player unless he chooses to play on and run with it (bouncing it on the ground roughly every 15steps). To score a player has to kick the ball between two posts, this, a goal, is worth 6 points, or get it between two posts outside of the main posts, which is a 'behind' and worth only 1 point.

Simple huh?

Actually, in fairness it does get simpler when you watch it a few times, im actually quite enjoying it. Im particularly enjoying supporting a winner, the Cats are top of the league, and beat Melbourne, bottom of the league, by a cricket score. I'm doing this guilt free as well, as half of Casey's family stem back from Geelong, and apparently the teams shift around a lot, with no-one staying on the top for more than 5 years or so.

I have to mention however, the stadium; The Melbourne Cricket Ground, or MCG.  Obviously nothing compares emotionwise to watching Stoke win at Wembley, (the old one - for now) but in terms of spectacular -ness, the MCG is massive...huge...bloody enormous!! For a cold, dark, wet, weekday, winter match there was 36,000 people there; the Britannia Stadium plus Vale Park full to capacity and more (sniggers...Vale Park full to capacity...) but they were completely lost in the 100,000 seater stadium. It looked empty. Looking forward to going to watch a big match there, it fills up for the Grand Final so may try to get tickets for that.

The crowd needed a bit of teaching how to sing...I wasnt the man to do this, but maybe this improves as it fills up? Each club has its club song, or anthem, and at the end of each game the winning team's is played. Geelong's is here, , a little bit naff, but suppose its a bit more family friendly than the Boothen End version of Delilah.

Got home just in time to catch the end of the Olympic impressive was that. Obviously we have to ignore the human rights travesties for a couple of hours, and not ask the question about what would happen to anyone that had [literally] stepped out of line, or describe making those girls dance the whole time the teams were marching as child labour, but forgetting all those things it was quite a specatcle wasn't it!

Right, this entry has literally taken me three days (not solidly i should add) so im going to finish it here.

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