The Cauliflower Chronicle
Where does cauliflower come from?
This is not only a great life question, but one that is typically brilliant for four people sitting in a hot tub, in a suburban back garden, in Sydney. The best thing about it is that it lead directly to me describing my ultimate fantasy.
In a sec.
You generally don’t get pints of beer in Australia of course: you get schooners. This, we were reliably told, is because a pint would warm up too quickly in the kind of heat in which one generally drinks beer. The best thing about Sydney is The Rocks: an area that sits between Circular Quay (for ferries and that), and one side of the Harbour Bridge. Perhaps it’s because of the bridge that the area is so good? I know not, but it’s a unique place to wander around, and if you happen to be looking for a child-sized boomerang, or perhaps an adult-sized didgeridoo, then it’s a great place to go shopping; for those that hate the arse off shopping, the place is resplendent with nice places to drink the aforementioned schooners.
(Q: Do you know how much a cauliflower costs in an Aus supermarket?)
The Royal Botanic Gardens is beautiful; the Opera House is a house where they do opera, and was designed by a Dane; the people seem nice… but there’s an even bigger treat waiting on every train. Yeah, they’re all airconditioned, have split levels, seem to run on time and often, but the real beauty is that with a simple push you can change the direction of the seats. Come on! You can quickly and easily change a set of six seats facing each other to two normal rows of three. By the time we arrived at Circular Quay every day my mind was blown into a million pieces.
(A: Six dollars. Six! That’s about £3.60)
Another unusual thing is that when we went out in Newtown (the suburb we stayed in), we headed out for a few drinks, and at one place ordered a funnily-named shot. What arrived was a large shot of Jameson and a large shot of brine. Yes, brine. That stuff you keep hotdogs in. The idea was to do the Jameson first, then the brine. Luckily it wasn’t me doing it, but I do reckon that the barmen were having a laugh; you can imagine them on the phone to their mates the next day: ‘you’ll never guess what I got a pom to do last night!’
(Everything is now measured in cauliflowers, like people do with football pitches for size. The brine shot was one and a half cauliflowers)
Back in the hot tub, the temperature rose so high that my testicles made a valiant effort to get further and further away from my body. I became convinced that over time they would glide out of the bottom of my shorts and interfere with the filter; not the best way to demonstrate gratitude to the hosts that have put you up for the duration of a four-day stay.
(Hot tub: 750 cauliflowers; testicles: 0.0025 of a cauliflower)
For all the heat, my travel companion and I only got burnt once, and it was proper pom ignorance too: we were watching an over 50's cricket game in Sydney Park and assumed a tree would act as enough shade. My shins looked like they’d been on the barbe the night before, onto which shrimp were literally thrown (and tasted awful).
Ok, so the ultimate fantasy part. It’s all to do with haulage; on long trips I often think about lorries crashing into each other and creating new taste sensations; this was how I started to explain how cauliflower cheese was created. What’s particularly exciting about that example is that the cheese sauce would, in itself, have necessitated a prior crash between a milk truck and a cheese container. You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty amazing when you think about it. You know. And maybe you should be a little more grateful when it’s next served up with your roast: people have lost their lives for that.
My hot tub friends didn’t buy it. To be honest, my explanation was ruined when I leant forward in sheer passion at the idea and everyone realised that a small rubber duck that had been in the hot tub had stuck to my shoulder. That’s how crazy the wildlife is in Australia.
Speaking of which, on our first night in Sydney we saw a huntsman the size of a fist; stories of people waking up in the house with spiders that big crawling on their faces didn’t help. Especially when followed up with, ‘oh watch out if it rears up – means it’s a funnel-web, and those are right fuckers’.
Thinking about that certainly helped get my testicles back to their right and proper place.
And as I started this with a question, it only seems fair to end it with the answer. We actually tried to reason our way through first: is it surrounded by tough leaves to stave off frost or protect it from the sun? What about the colour? After five seconds of that, we googled it. The answer is Cyprus. Flights from 40 cauliflowers.