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Showing posts from July, 2012

Take it all off, I told the girl.

It was about four years ago. A friend and I were looking through some old photographs when we turned up an old black and white one of me on my 21st birthday. “Look at the hair!” the friend exclaimed, a little too jauntily, I thought. “You’ll never grow it that long again!” he added. It was almost shoulder length. That’s how it was in 1978. Nothing out of the ordinary then, like Yalumba Carte dÓr riesling and the VB Commodore. “Yes, I could,” I returned. “But you won’t,” he insisted. “I bet you a thousand you won’t ever have hair that long again. You couldn’t possibly.” I took him up. He gave me five years. I did it in four. It was longer than 1978. $1000, please. Last Friday night I went to one of those new haircut places in Elizabeth Street. There are several of them competing in one block, and there is no waiting. They service the student population that has boomed in the area. “How short?” she asked. They used to call it short back and sides but the jargon now goes in number

1970: day trip into hell.

This is complicated. So let’s start at the start. Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, there was a lion park way out west. It was near Bacchus Marsh, on a large hill on the north side of the Western Highway. It was not a very good lion park. In fact, it was eventually closed down. Now there is no sign it ever existed. But Tracy knows where it was. We drive on the Western Highway a few times a year, and when we drop down into the Marsh valley on the shady side of that hill, Tracy gives a kind of shudder, almost imperceptible, like a facial tic. She eventually told me the story. She had been taken to the lion park as a five year old, and has been unable to erase the memory ever since. It was the middle of a very long hot summer, and the temperature that day could have been 42 degrees Celsius, except we didn't have Celsius then, so it was probably a far more impressive 100-plus Fahrenheit. Tracy’s family lived in Dandenong in those days; and there were no freeways. The mar

Flavour of the month (literally, rather than the cliche).

Fenugreek is sweet, aromatic, savoury, enchanting, sublime, obvious and subtle. It is a herb, a spice and a vegetable. It does not come from Greece. Fenugreek is my flavour of the month. Chickpeas and corn with sour cream and fenugreek. Too easy to be serious. Until you taste it. Take a tin each of chick peas (or cook your own) and corn. Drain most of the fluids and gently warm the beige orbs and yellow grains in a pan. Add a teaspoon of fenugreek powder, a dash of salt and a pinch of white pepper. Then stir through a good tablespoon or two of sour cream. This humble dish is a taste sensation. Serve as a side dish topped with a sprig of coriander at a barbecue and the sausages will go cold, abandoned. Because the dish is so unassuming, it would probably be ignored if not for its seductive aroma redolent of ... ... I don't know. Fenugreek is available along Sydney Road at any number of delis and grocery shops. Some stock the leaves, frozen, ready to be cooked into a fres