Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dodgy culinary experiences

Now I am not a fussy person when it comes to food. Give me anything, as long as it's not meat or battery hen eggs (Even then I can be convinced), and I'll eat it. Twice in living memory have I come across food that is truly disgusting. There is this place on Pitt St in Sydney, I think it may be Korean. It is right next to a backpackers so it has a fresh and continuous stream of unsuspecting travellers. It is also comparitively cheap - it is hard to find cheap food in Sydney.

One day I was walking home. I had been drinking on an empty stomach and was starving. Famished. I stopped at this place and ordered three choices. Proud of the fact that I was "trying something new." The first choice was tofu - you can rarely go wrong with that - I can even eat it raw. Then whole eggs and a vege stir fry. From behind the glass, it looked absolutely fine. It may have been my imagination but the girl behind the counter gave me an amused look, as if to say: "Haha, silly gweillo, you shall see." Turns out, the tofu was so hard it could have been used for car tyres. Same with the eggs. The vegies contained a rubbery "fish" substance, bringing to mind images of shark skin. There were some unidentifiable slug things throughout, all was covered in a sickly sweet sauce and to top it all off, a sizeable piece of animal bone was swimming around the container. I still tried to eat it, of course - hunger is a powerful thing - but couldn't.

Afterwards, when me and my travel buddy walked past, we'd warn people not to eat there, and always stop to see what kind of crap they had on the fryer that day.

Now I'm not being culturally insensitive - that food was just terrible. I'm certain that it was some kind of cruel joke.

And today... that food has been surpassed. On my flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong I was given some fish rice. It started off OK with a bread roll and Tararua (whoopee) butter. But behold, the main dish:

Wrinkled peas and corn with some slivers of white fish, full of grey veins. Coated in a slimy, gelatinous sauce and tasting the way a fresh fish shop smells. Served with rice and steamed Chinese brocilli that tasted as if it had been cooked in a kid's chrorinated swimming pool. On the side was some chilli bamboo stuff, which I'm sure also tasted of chlorophill - if I ever had the pleasure of being gassed.

I saw the look of disdain on the air hostesses' face when I handed back my almost untouched meal. She was thinking that I can't handle the Asian Tang.

And you know what, I think she's right.

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