02 August 2008

The taste on the back of your tongue...

Living here in Sydney has been really interesting so far; there are so many things that are exactly the same as living in the States, but a few things are really different. Different enough to make me miss home...

1. The drinking scene in Sydney is absolutely deplorable. All the bars are in hotels that are really brightly-lit, they all serve the same six crappy beers, all have big screen TVs showing sports all the time and all have slot machines. All the bars double as liquor stores, as well. The reason behind this is Sydney's licensing laws. Basically the license to sell alcohol is really expensive, and if you're not a restaurant, you have to get a general "vice" license, which allows you to sell bottles and to have gambling. Even if you are a restaurant, the license is still really pricey, so most restaurants don't even serve alcohol, opting instead to let you bring your own. It's also really difficult to get a license allowing you to have entertainment and serve alcohol, so the music venues here have a really tough go. These licensing issues have basically led to the entire city of Sydney having hundreds of identical bars, all of which are wildly unpalatable to Brick Store regulars.

There is, however, hope on the horizon; don't despair, my friends, and don't cancel your plans to come visit us either. The situation is not as dire as it may seem! Sydney has just pushed through new licensing, based on Melbourne's, that will allow "small bars" to open up and will allow venue bars to open, as well. These are little places that are more comfortable to spend an evening at than the hotel bars. We are looking forward to it, and already one of these small bars has opened in our neighborhood! It's more geared toward cocktails than beer, but it's still a step in a better direction. Hopefully, someone will open a small beer bar in time for Nijaween!

The fact that I have to wait for a bar where I can feel comfortable just makes me miss the Brick Store and Twain's.

2. Pizza here is really lame. I mean, everyone says that America doesn't have its own cuisine, that it's just a mishmash from other cultures, and for the most part, I agree. But today Craig and I were talking about how pizza might not be from America, but America perfected it. Pizza is America's cuisine. Everyone in America has had good pizza and every town in America has a good pizza joint. We even have regional pizzas.

Sydney does not have good pizza. Every place we've been has been sub-par, at best. There are times when I catch myself thinking, "well, this wasn't good, but we'll find the good stuff." And today I realized, there just might not be any good pizza here. Because it's not America, because it is not possible for every single thing to be the same here. Sydney does not have Ethiopian restaurants. Sydney's understanding of Mexico is seriously lacking. Because Sydney is so much like the States, but crucially different. It is on the other flippin' side of the world. Because my life will not be exactly as it was.

And then, the first salty taste of nostalgia on the back of my tongue. It's good that everything can't be the same, I thought. This way I'll have something to miss.


  1. Hey! From everyone at the farm as well. I can't believe that I ruined "So You Think You Can Dance"! Don't you have a different one there?

    It's so interesting reading your long term experience of Sydney compared with out short term one. We thought the food was so much better there (except for Mexican)but we were not there long enough to feel nostalgic for pizza or for bars here. Hell, when do we ever get to the Brick Store or other bars here. ; ) We're loving your blog.

  2. Don't worry about it, you had absolutely no way of knowing that they're showing it here on a delay anyway. There is a copycat show here that premiered in the summer, and as such the American version is colloquially-referred-to as "US Dance." Sounds like we'll having ripping dance competitions to watch on TV all year 'round!

    On the food topic, Nija and I agree that there seem to be some really nice restaurants with really good food here. In fact, we think the Thai and Lebanese are just awesome (and ubiquitous) and the Indian is nothing to sneeze at. The availability of really beautiful produce, most of it local, is really great. You're right about the Mexican, though there is a chain called Guzman Y Gomez in Sydney that I like a lot and that Nija thinks is OK that is something like your Willy's or Chipotle, but more "Mexican" and less "Californian," if that makes any sense. It's really just the lame bar scene and substandard pizza. We're hoping to rectify both with more exploring.