Thursday, 11 October 2012

Pasar Malam

Every year, Curtin University and UWA host international food festivals centred around the culinary delights the students have brought with them from their own countries and cultures. The universities here have a large and diverse Asian population and they bring with them their cuisine, meaning that we have an equally diverse and authentic range of Asian cuisines here. 
Held on balmy spring nights they are a culmination of small local oriental businesses and kitchen-savy students selling some of the hawkers/snack food that they have grown up with and can now make themselves. As a partaker on the eating side of activities, these evenings make for a fun night where hoards of hungry students, past students and general food lovers converge on the narrow strip between the stalls making sure they don't miss out on the very best of the takoyaki balls, bubur hitam, ice chendol, grilled squid tentacles, deep-friend anything and everything, and all other delicious dishes that are going down. 
Watching the crowd, its easy to tell which stalls have the best food or the most fashionable products as  each one has a queue a mile long and you know you'll have to fight your way through to the front if you want to try it before it sells out. 
As a family, we usually make a point of going together, taking as many fellow food lovers as possible with us and gorge ourselves silly on as many different things as possible. It's like Yum Cha. the more people there are the more you can taste and ultimately the cheaper it becomes. 
This particular year there were fewer of us and unfortunately no grilled squid tentacles but after two years of London's idea of Asian cuisine, who am I to complain. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Birds of Paradise

Mum's garden is spectacular. It is a floral wilderness at the moment and an intriguing mix of classic English flowers, local flowers that verge on being called weeds and natives plants that upon hitting water threaten to overwhelm the entire garden. Wandering though the undergrowth, you're never quite aware of what you will stumble upon; be it a forgotten fruit tree ready to be harvested, an unusual and expensive native that surely died last summer, or the lemon scented gum that decided to remind you of its fragility by sending a branch crashing down upon the rest of the garden. 

Where-ever you wander, there is sure to be something to marvel at. And because it is such a treasure trove it is filled with a superb mixture of the local bird life, all of whom torment the cats and ensure that these four legged predators are aware that they are not the masters of this small patch of paradise. We have always had the wattle birds testing the cats' agility and patience, and the baby magpies who cry pitifully for their parents to feed them... again, interspersed with the lorikeets and kookaburras who flock overhead and warble down at the dramas enacted below.
However recently we have acquired two newcomers: Curled up at the breakfast table enjoying the morning's cup of coffee it is not uncommon to see a sacred ibis tiptoe through the herb garden just outside the side door, foraging through the leaf litter for a tasty treat. They are graceful creatures who have habitually combed the neighbours’ lawn for years now, but obviously decided that this garden looked far more enticing. As morning tea time rolls around this ibis stalks the surrounding gardens aerating the soil before hydrating themselves from the lilypond at the edge of the path.

Copyright 2003-2012 Andrew Marriott.

Our other guest is a beautiful little black and white kingfisher who has a taste for fish (probably frogs) and the largest worms that the garden can produce. This later guest is a delightful visitor as he hovers near to the kitchen window and is more than happy to be subjected to the gaze of anyone and everyone - provided he gets the worms he so desires. Unfortunately it makes for a bit of a standoff in the garden for Mum is fond of her worms, as she is of the coconut matting the magpies pinch for their nests, and does not take to seeing the kingfisher extract plump worms from anywhere in her garden.And when you venture out into the garden, he hops up on a hanging basket and watches you through a glistening black eye, wondering what you are up to, and ensuring that you are thinking the same of him. That is until the time it decides that you have ventured onto it's turf and are thereby classified as an intruder. It is delightful to hear as on this occasion the kingfisher was in complete uproar for the simple fact that Mum was in the garden fossicking through her pile of potting mix.
But the birds have the run of the garden, for the poor cats have been quelled into submission, though they'd hate to be told that.

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