Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tea for two expats

Over the last few days, my compatriot Badger, blogging from his visibly upper-class residence in the heart of Vienna, has produced memorable celebrations of distinguished Australian food products such as Bushells tea, Sao biscuits, the inevitable Vegemite, Cherry Ripe chocolate bars and the industrial biscuit product designated as the Iced Vo Vo. His first article, My tea would kill a brown dog [display], attracted my attention for the simple reason that the expression "Bushells tea" had apparently disappeared from my memory for half a century, up until Badger revived it. On the other hand, another famous Australian brand had never escaped from my memory, maybe because it bore my childhood name.

My nostalgic recollection of Australian tea concerns a bush beverage prepared by my father, brewed over a eucalyptus fire in a so-called billy can or a quart pot (which could be attached to a horse saddle).

Here at Gamone, I've grown accustomed to fine jasmine-flavored Chinese tea. After much searching, I've discovered an excellent organic tea imported by the Fair trade people, which I consider equal to the highly-priced products available in specialized big-city teashops.

Back at Waterview, my dear mother used to make fun of a refined neighbor who dared to say: "Tea tastes so much better in a fine cup." Sadly, Mum understood nothing. You don't have to be a Japanese potter to know that our Waterview neighbor was spot on.

Badger then attacked with an amazing ode to the Sao biscuit [display]. To my mind, his lyric poetry could well replace Dorothea Mackellar's My Country as an authentic but fuzzy Down Under hymn.

Long ago, out in Bangkok visiting my aunt and uncle (residing there on a professional mission), I remember being most amused by a few words of expat wisdom concerning the scruffy dogs you see everywhere in the Thai capital: "When you suddenly feel like approaching a stray dog in Thailand, patting it fondly and saying 'Nice little dog', then it's time to get the hell back to your home country."

I ran into that nice little dog on the beach at Hua-Hin, where my children and I had been staying for a few days. In any case, we were booked to fly out and return to France a few days later.

With that dog-based precept in mind, I thought it well to warn Badger. When a retired Aussie banker—residing with his globe-trotting trophy wife in the fabulous Austrian capital—starts indulging in poetry about Sao biscuits and Bushells tea, then it's surely time for an Exodus.

AFTERTHOUGHT: In the wake of his revelations concerning our celebrated cuppa and tasteless biscuits, I'm awaiting Badger's judgment concerning our famous Aussie remedial dictum, guaranteed to heal almost all ills: "A cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down." In the Aussie ice-cream domain, when I was a kid, there were only two contenders: Peters and McNivens. I disliked the first, preferring the second. God only knows how I became addicted to one rather than the other. Badger might tell us where he stands on the ancient debate between the equally obnoxious powders of Bex and Vincents. Does he know, for example, that the term "addictive" was finally applied to these celebrated Aussie shit products? Today, shouldn't we—unlike Badger—merely stop perpetrating all this ridiculous nationalistic Vegemite and Bushells rubbish? It fails to honor the sacred memory of the land that my ancestors—including, above all (for me), my father—helped to build. But addicts, alas, will be incapable of reacting to my wise suggestion.


  1. hiiii....
    nice topic and nice photos.
    what is the cost of the tea packet?

  2. Lillya: Thanks for your nice comment. Concerning "the cost of the tea packet", you'll have to be a little more precise. If you're referring to the Billy Tea image, it's simply a photo of a metallic tea box that I found on the web. For the cost of a packet of Bushells, you should consult my expat fellow-countryman Badger, who's an expert in that field. Besides, for each purchase, he throws in a packet of Aussie biscuits, at no extra cost, along with a jar of delicious yeast extract. I'm told that his tasty suggestion of Vegemite smeared across Iced Vo Vos is out of this world. But you have to wash it down with a massive dose of strong tea.