This weekend, we visited a country whose national language is English, just like our own. But whether Australia and the United States share the same English seems open to debate. G’day, mate!
For breakfast on Saturday, Jess had found a recipe for pikelets, which are little Australian pancakes served at special occasions. These we enjoyed with some raspberry jam and a side of crispy (vegetarian) bacon:
After finishing our breakfast, we watched a short film called The Spirit of ANZAC, which educated us about the brave history of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps in both of the world wars:
We wanted to learn about this era that helped to define Australia’s national identity because it also produced a cookie, the ANZAC biscuit, which Australian women had often sent to their enlisted men during the wars. I was going to try my hand at making these biscuits so that Jess and I would have something to snack on later in the weekend.
The biscuits are made with oats and coconut, among other things, though we substituted honey for the more traditional golden syrup (which is related to molasses).
For lunch, we took the Blue Line down to the East Boston waterfront. Jess was already familiar with a shop that sells Australian meat pies near her office in South Boston, and now we were determined to discover their second location. Many of the East Boston piers are now covered in weeds or have collapsed into the harbor, while others still support the rusted rail lines that once served hundreds of cargo ships. Peering through a chain-link fence into the Boston Harbor Shipyard, we could see that some of the waterfront still enjoyed active use. At the entrance to the shipyard was a guard shack, but after some hesitation we strolled over.
To my relief, the guard seemed to have stepped away from his post, so we waltzed through the checkpoint and decided to have a look around. Was this really where the pie shop was supposed to be? After passing by a few industrial buildings on the left and some dry dock facilities on the right, we came face to face with our destination: KO Pies.
Seeing the enormous meat cleaver, we began to wonder whether we were going to eat the pies or be baked inside them ourselves. Everything worked out fine, however. Soon Jess and I were both enjoying what the Aussies call a floater—that is, a pie covered with mashed potatoes, mushy peas, and gravy.
On the left was a braised lamb shank pie for me, and on the right a curried vegetable pie (without the gravy) for Jess. After finishing our floaters, we exited at the far side of the shipyard through a gap in the fence and continued walking along the harbor until we had reached the Hyatt Hotel at Logan Airport. That was the end of the boardwalk, which doesn’t extend around the airport itself, so we sat near the hotel for a while before turning back.
Passing through the shipyard once more, we stopped again at KO Pies for a little dessert. On the right is the traditional Australian pavlova, a large meringue topped with fruit and whipped cream. On the left is something that the pie shop called an Eastie Mess, which was a tasty mixture of crumbled pavlova and lemon curd.
As you can see, the pavlova was a bit more than we had bargained for, but delicious nonetheless. KO had other Australian treats in stock, including lamingtons and the now-familiar ANZAC biscuits. After struggling through the pavlova, however, we called it a day.
While I talked cheerfully about taking a nap for the rest of the afternoon (I actually spent it writing this blog post) Jess knew that much of the day’s work was still ahead: cooking in the 84°F apartment. Her two dinner recipes were an Australian pumpkin soup and some cheese and vegemite scrolls.
You can catch a glimpse of Jess making the scrolls, along with their famous Australian ingredient, in the photo above. Australians seem to enjoy a lot of barbequed meat, meaning that (as with Argentina) Jess had to hunt a little harder for these recipes. The soup and the scrolls were delicious—and very Australian—all the same!
That evening, we watched an Australian film called Rabbit Proof Fence (2002), which tells the solemn and true story of two half-Aborigine girls who were separated from their mother in the 1930s because of the racist social policies of the Australian government.
Set in the state of Western Australia, the film gave us a glimpse at both the country’s complex history and its famous outback.
On Sunday morning, we started out with a simpler Australian breakfast of Weetabix cereal, accompanied by some vegemite on toast. Weetabix is the British (and, in this case, Canadian) version of an original Australian cereal called Weet-Bix, which isn’t sold in the United States. We found the Canadian version at Whole Foods.
After breakfast, we got to work preparing some salad sandwiches for a picnic lunch. Jess’s sandwich featured curried egg salad and mine (below) some thin-sliced turkey, both piled high with shredded carrots, beets, and cucumber.
We then packed up our sandwiches, some sparking water, and the remaining ANZAC biscuits for a day trip to Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. There we found a number of Australian animals, including many who lived along the zoo’s Outback Trail:
That’s not an animal, that’s Jess! But as you will see below, we came face to face with red kangaroos, emus, budgies, black swans, kookaburras, and macaws.
Yes, most of the creatures along the Outback Trail were birds, but later we encountered some other Australian avians in the Bird House. These indoor exhibits included a large-scale diorama of the Australian outback, featured at the top of this post and home to some colorful Australian finches. As I remarked to Jess, this was the first time that we had encountered a immersive simulation of a country that we were exploring right here in Boston. I zoomed in on one of the finches below.
In the same exhibit hall, we also saw a blue tongued skink. Around the corner was another native of Australia, the tawny frogmouth. This bird was snoozing in a darkened enclosure, but I captured a photo using the camera’s night vision capabilities.
We had a good time seeing the rest of the zoo’s animals, too, although sometimes their meager enclosures seemed rather depressing.
That evening, we returned home to enjoy some more of the delicious pumpkin soup with the cheese and vegemite scrolls. Wanting to learn a bit more about modern Australia, we watched this short travel video after dinner:
We had a busy weekend. Our hunt for all things Australian had taken us to some unfamiliar corners of the city—East Boston and Franklin Park—which is part of what our globetrotting is all about. Along the way, we’d like to think we learned a few things about the land down under, too.