Over the years I’ve had many visitors from overseas stay with me, and have had the pleasure of showing them my little corner of the world. (Do you suppose the phrase ‘corner of the world’ originated back when everybody thought the world was flat? Must’ve thought it was flat and square. It sounds pretty stupid now; I take it back.) Anyway, I’ve had lots of house guests from overseas and one thing I’ve learned is that most of them–Americans in particular–find certain aspects of dining out in Australia to be somewhat puzzling. So, in case any of you are considering paying us a visit,I thought I would offer you a leg up, as they say, with a few pointers on the local dining culture. (Please note: such things do vary a bit from region to region, but these tips would apply most places.)
Terminology: Starting with the basics
- First (or “firstly” as they like to say here), there is breakfast, (not too difficult, so long as you don’t have any ambitions to define how you like your eggs. Here, “How do you want your eggs?” means only “Do you want them fried, scrambled, or poached?” No info is needed about how you’d like them fried or poached. Australians have all heard the term ‘over easy’ but, A– they find it highly amusing, and B– they haven’t a clue what it means. Fried is fried. If you’re fussy, go with the scrambled eggs.)
- Next there is morning tea, which is usually around 10 o’clock, and which, if you’re very lucky, might feature Devonshire tea — that is, tea or coffee, served with scones with jam and cream. Otherwise it may just be a drink with a couple of biscuits (which are cookies, and they are almost never home made). BTW: scone is pronounced scon here. Rhymes with gone.
- This is followed by lunch, which is most typically had around 1:00. (It’s only been a couple hours since morning tea, don’t forget!) More about lunch later;
- Next up is afternoon tea (are you still with me?) which once again is time for a cuppa — tea or coffee — and maybe something savoury, or some more biscuits (cookies, remember?) From here it starts getting more difficult.
- The next meal is tea. This is your standard evening meal. Often called supper in America. Supper, however, is a late night snack (maybe a piece of cake or some cheese and biscuits — oops! not cookies this time; crackers.) What about dinner? I hear you ask. Well, dinner can be substituted for tea, except that it can also be substituted for lunch, particularly at the weekend (notice I said “at the weekend”). Sunday roast or roast dinner may occur at lunch time or tea time, at which time it would be called dinner. My cats think everytime is dinnertime.
- A word about after-dinner coffee (which you will probably want after tea, but I’m not talking about supper here). If you are having coffee and dessert–and you would like them served together (at the same time), you will need to mention that at the time you order it. Good luck with that.
I’m thinking this is probably enough information to digest at one time. I’ll continue tomorrow, where I’ll get down to business with Menus. For now, it’s time for morning tea. MM