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G'day Mate!

“Welcome to Australia!”

In Australia, as well as a few other countries around the world, this Tall Poppy Syndrome is in full effect. I experience it so often, whether it is happening to me or to others.

What is “Tall Poppy Syndrome?” According to Wikipedia, and numerous other sources online,

The tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term primarily used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and other Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.

Australia and New Zealand’s usage of the term has evolved and is not uniformly negative. In Australia, a long history of “underdog” culture and profound respect for humility in contrast to that of Australia’s English feudal heritage results in a different understanding of “Tall poppy syndrome”.

It is good and bad, but it’s ridiculous, and it exists. Nothing we can do about it. But, in my opinion, on many occasions people around me here in Oz, it seems to my observant eye, have used this syndrome as an excuse to treat someone who is or has succeeded at something great to make them feel like dirt. I’ve seen it on most occasions as a cynical and sarcastic way to make someone feel less. It seems ignorant. Jealous. Wrong. Holds people back. Maybe not Aussies, but I don’t know… It’s the only thing that I feel “wrong” here, but I know that I judge it on a whole based on where I come from, where such behavior is seen as demeaning or antisocial. I accept it living here, of course, as I am aware that this is their country and culture, and it is not mine, but it still boggles me after already four years of living amongst it. I don’t get offended when an Aussie knocks me down (I instead chuckle inside at them).

I just think that Aussies should be proud of who they are, whether their success is something personal, family-orientated, or something that the whole world could become aware of. You’re proud of your Olympians, pro-surfers, and the Socceroos, aren’t you? You don’t have to go all “American” about it, but my goodness. Just smile and know you could be inspiring something great in someone else. Or don’t. Whatever.

The old adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” comes to mind. Just like how I did in the Netherlands, where “Dutch directness” is king or queen. So, like how I had adapted to the Dutch with their directness (I lived there for 7 years, so I had to!), I can’t knock them. Not necessarily, although it seems like I am. Why not? A fair go, as they say here! Like I said, I’m not of this culture and can’t change it. I just observe it. But I witness things and it seems odd, this behavior given by an Aussie to a fellow Aussie. For example, recently a friend was so pleased, sharing about their promotion at work, as they’d worked hard to get from the bottom to somewhere that they were happy within the company. Everybody wants that. But… So those around who played the Tall Poppy-card on my friend should’ve heard from my friend retorting something to knock them down as well. Something like one of these examples would’ve been brilliant:

• Promotions go to those who are skilled and deserving in all areas at work — Hey! You got a promotion recently, but I just saw you yesterday not putting your dirty dish into the dishwasher in the lunchroom. Isn’t there a sign there above the dishwasher, in English, asking that all employees are responsible to care for their dirty dishes? Does lunchtime not apply here for your highly skilled employment? (Could add: And I know so-and-so could your job better than you, and they take care of their own dirty dishes in the lunchroom.)

• How long have you been working here and without a promotion? (LOL)

• How about when you receive accolades here, we all not just speak to you for a week? Sounds cool?

Many internationally-known Aussies have even had to face it. Sadly. Golfer Greg Norman and Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Ian Thorpe are a few off the top of my head. Rock bands like INXS have even had to endure it, playing down their international fame to fellow Aussies. In the book The Final Days of Michael Hutchence by Mike Gee, Mike interviewed INXS band member Kirk Pengilly in 1997:

MG: Talking about The Divinyls, they did better in the US than most people are aware of.

KP: And that was always the way with us. I think we always did way better overseas than the average Australian was aware of. Probably because we were always trying to play it down a bit for fear of the tall poppy.

MG: It’s ridiculous, this syndrome.

KP: It’s the English heritage, the English are very much like that too. They’re very much into that tearing success down. It’s weird, you know. America’s the complete opposite.

So Aussies, do you feel it is necessary to carry on your old tradition of Tall Poppy? If so, why? Or if not, why? If yes, can you name a good example for why Tall Poppy Syndrome is necessary? Or are you just cool with it? If no, would you please remind the next knocker you witness that they could be just as good as the Tall Poppy? Help stop the silliness…

After four years (actually, I noticed after only being here during my first day!), I know Australia is very Americanized. Sadly. Good for people like me, but not so thrilling for Aussies, I can imagine. Is this another possible answer for why Australians wish to cling to this Tall Poppy Syndrome?

In the meantime, well, I’m just going to sit back and watch Aussies tear each other down. Good on you, mates!

And are Aussies proud of their Aussieness to at least some degree? They are. Again, good on you, mates! If they should claim that they’re not (many have complained to me that Americans “have too much pride in being American”), just take a look at this example of the back window of this car that is parked next to me while I write this! These Aussies seem proud of who they are:

Southern Cross & Australian flag

Southern Cross & Australian flag

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Things Aussies Like

Mmmmm

Arnott’s Tim Tams are definitely a favorite favourite in Australia, with one in every two households containing a packet of these cookies biscuits. In other words, if you visit an Aussie in their home and they serve you tea, mention the Tim Tam and there’s a 50% chance you’ll get one on the spot… That is, unless they’re greedy about their Tim Tams, in which case you will just have to buy some for yourself at the local Coles or Woolworths {“Woolies”}.

Coated in chocolate, Tim Tams are two layers of malted chocolate biscuit, filled with a creamy chocolate filling.

A few varieties available in Australia:

· Tim Tam Original
· 
Tim Tam Classic Dark
· 
Tim Tam Chewy Caramel
· 
Tim Tam White
· 
Tim Tam Double Coat

They are found outside of Australia nowadays in countries like Canada, the United States and a few other nations, but Tim Tams originally began in Australia in 1964. According to Wikipedia:

“They were named by Ross Arnott, who attended the 1958 Kentucky Derby and decided that the name of the winning horse Tim Tam was perfect for a planned new line of biscuits. The new biscuit was based on the existing New Zealand Penguin biscuit.”

Aussies seem to love pushing the addictive treats on others as well! Hugh Jackman once visited Oprah with Nicole Kidman to promote the Baz Luhrmann movie “Australia,” and Hugh made sure to sneak some of the irresistible treats over to Oprah {read more here}.

© thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com

Prepping the Tim Tam...

Tim Tam Slam:

Whether you call it the Tim Tam Straw, the Tim Tam Bomb or the Tim Tam Explosion, you’ve got to try this!

Within 3 months of being in Australia, my friend Evan showed me how to do the Tim Tam Slam because it is, after all, some rite of passage here Down Under.

With a hot beverage, such as a cup of coffee or, as many Aussies have suggested to me, Milo, what you do is take your Tim Tam cookie biscuit and bite off at both ends diagonally, like seen in the photos here on the right.

Now, using the Tim Tam like a straw in your hot beverage, sip through the top half of the Tim Tam and then, once the biscuit is saturated, quickly turn it upside down and eat it. It will melt in your mouth!

Here’s a great video showing how it’s done:

And watch Natalie Imbruglia show Graham Norton how it’s done:

And, just in case you need more, here is a great article for beginners on how to do the Tim Tam Slam.

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© thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com

Thongs

No, not thong underwear. We’re talking about flip-flops or jandals.

Aussies love to wear thongs and have for over 50 years. According to Wikipedia:

“Thongs became popular in Australia after being worn by the Australian Olympic swimming team at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956.”

Even during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony, Kylie Minogue rode to the stage on a giant thong

When they aren’t going barefoot, I’ve seen Aussies wearing thongs everywhere Down Under, and this is possibly because roughly 80% of the population lives within 50 km {approximately 30 miles} of the beach. And keep in mind that you can get away with wearing thongs almost anywhere down here.

Single or double pluggers?
According to Urban Dictionary:

“The highest standard of thongs, these have two plugs though the sole on each side.  If the pair has only one plug through the sole, then they’re only good for showers.  With two plugs you can wear them out to dinner, to the pub, a wedding, a funeral…”

Seasonal attire?
Some Aussies would probably wear them all year, if they could. Even on one cold winter day in Sydney, which was about 10°C {that’s 50°F}, I saw a woman on the train who was wearing a pair of thongs. However you’ll more likely to see thongs worn in the Sydney-area from September through April at the beach and around town.

The brands:
· Havaianas
· TEVA
· Cobian
· Quiksilver/Roxy
· Crocs

There are more, but the most popular brand of thongs seem to be Havaianas.

Aussie Flag Thong

Aussie Thong Inflatable Pool Floaty-thingy

What do I think?
At first, it was tough for me to say “thongs.” I kept thinking of the “Thong Song” by Sisqo… I’m over that now.

I now own 3 pairs of thongs, which is also the total amount of pairs I’d owned in my entire life before coming to Australia, plus I have 2 pairs of terry cloth terry towelling thongs for around the house. I don’t like to wear thongs everyday because it’s bad for the feet, but I certainly have adopted them into my wardrobe. The pairs I own range from laid-back, just plain black or brown, to dressy, bedazzled with embellishments.

I believe I’m starting to fit in Down Under…

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© thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com

Within the first day 12 hours of being in Sydney, I was introduced to meat pies by an Australian. It was outside of the hotel I stayed in {Blue at Woolloomooloo — Say that 10 times, fast}, my very first night in Australia, at a Harry’s Cafe de Wheels stand, one of many locations found in the Sydney-area.  Upon approach, I was told all about meat pies and how Harry’s was a classic with such fervor fervour.  I noted it.

What is a meat pie?
A meat pie is hand-sized and filled with diced or minced meat and gravy, sometimes also onions, mushrooms, etc {more here}.

There are many varieties to choose from, as well as a number of vegetarian-options. I remember these also being available in America in the frozen food-section of the supermarket, known as “pot pies.”

Where are meat pies sold?
Meat pies are sold all over Australia, but here are a few places around Sydney where you’ll easily find them:

· Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
· Robertson Pie Shop
· Pie Face
· Pie in the Sky
· Convenience stores and “servos” {Aussie for “service station”}
· Pubs
· Outdoor kiosks/stands — Some sell Mrs. Mac’s pies.
· Sports arenas

© thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com

Pie and Can — Outside of a store near Austinmer Beach in NSW

Many of the places which sell meat pies might want for you to know that they have been somehow at some time rated best meat pie — There even is an annual “Official Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition” — Somehow it matters, but it doesn’t mean their meat pie tastes any good today. Word of mouth has told me that Harry’s, Robertson, Upper Crust and another called Hamlet’s sell the best…

Slang:
Many of the Aussies I know call a meat pie with tomato sauce “dog’s eye and dead horse.”  It’s part of their “rhyming slang,” which you can read more about here.

How to eat a meat pie dog’s eye and dead horse:
Either top the meat pie with tomato sauce or smother each bite with tomato sauce.  It’s an on-the-go type of food, so it’s available takeaway and usually easy to eat while sitting on the train or ferry.  You can also order it with mash {Aussie for “mashed potatoes”}, {mushy} peas and/or gravy and eat it with a fork and knife.

Best and worst meat pies I’ve ever eaten:
I had one from Harry’s which was good, called a “tiger.” It is served with mash, mushy peas and gravy. Pie Face, on two separate attempts, was the worst.  I just suggest you try them all so you can judge for yourself.  My next pie will be from Cronulla Pie Shop.

Do Aussies really love meat pies?
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Be sure to mention it the next time you meet an Australian and most likely their eyes will light up. If they’re abroad, it might even make them homesick.

Here’s some more proof of how much Aussies love meat pies:

Remember — They love “football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.”

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© thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com

A snag on the barbie

Aussies love sausages and, to avoid any further confusion, it’s best to know that they call them “snags” and “bangers.”

They are available in a plethora of flavors flavours, such as:

· Sun Dried Tomato & Basil
· Honey Macadamia Chicken
· Beef, Mushroom & Garlic
· Moroccan Lamb
· Apricot Chicken  

Australians will eat their sausages with mash {Aussie for “mashed potatoes”} and they call this “bangers and mash,” which is also an English-thing, but more commonly they’ll eat their sausage wrapped in a slice of bread, which they’ll usually call a “banger sanger,” smothered with grilled onions and either tomato sauce or barbecue sauce. Sausage sandwiches are often sold for fundraising purposes outside of hardware stores like Bunnings or at a sporting event, and they call this a sausage sizzle.” Aussies also eat sausage rolls and these are wrapped in a flaky pastry and available at takeaway shops.

Saveloy:
Another English-thing the Aussies like, and known colloquially by Aussies as “savs,” saveloys are a seasoned hot dog-like sausage. They are boiled and served in a slice of bread or in a bread roll with tomato sauce.  A “battered sav” is a battered saveloy which has been battered, deep fried and served with tomato sauce.  A “battered sav” is usually also available at fish and chip shops.

“Battered sav” also carries another meaning in Aussie slang.  During their commentary of the Sydney 2000 Olympics games, Australian comedic duo Roy & HG on “The Dream” redefined “battered sav” as a gymnast move where, in some movements, a male gymnast pushes his groin to the floor and “batters” his “sav”…

How to properly cook a sausage on the barbie:
Usually Aussies cook their sausages on the barbie, and the best way to cook them is slowly over a mild heat without piercing the skin.  For best results, poach the sausages in a pan of water {or beer} on a low, steadily simmering heat for about 30 minutes. Then, using tongs, put the sausages on the cold grill and set the barbie temperature to low heat.  Be sure to cook them thoroughly, and cook them evenly by turning them often.

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Throw another prawn on the barbie...

Barbie, barby, bbq, barbecue, grill or whatever you want to call it, just like Steve Irwin and Vegemite, the barbie is an Australian cultural icon. Everyone I have met in Australia so far owns a grill {or two}, with it being at least a portable grill to take camping or to the beach.

A few things Aussies normally cook on their gas or charcoal barbie:

· Prawns
· Snags or bangers {sausages}
· Chicken {skewers, etc.}
· Steak
· Kangaroo {seriously}

Different types of fish and seafood can be added to that list, and it seem there are always onions and other veggies cooking on the grill as well.  I’ve even seen Australia-shaped hamburger patties {as seen below}…

Bring your own plate: 

At some barbecues, they’ll ask that you bring your own plate. This means you should bring a prepared dish of food to share with the host and guests.  Bring your own meat, unless asked not to.  Also ask what you should bring otherwise as well, like if you should bring a picnic blanket or camping chairs for yourself and your family.

Drinks:

BYO means bring your own drink.  It’s OK to just bring your own drinks anyway, so load up your Esky {Aussie for “ice cooler”} with your favorite favourite drinks.

· If it’s beer you’re bringing, bring at least a 6-pack.
· If you bring your own beer, it’s OK to go home with your leftover beers.

© thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com

Australia-shaped hamburger patties...

What to wear:

The chances of a family spending Christmas in their cozzies {Aussie for “swimming suits”} by the grill at the pool or at the beach is highly likely in Australia, so barbecues are not always meant to be formal.   Unless it’s supposed to be a formal event, wear whatever the weather seems to permit. Of course, you can add a little bit of some Aussie humor humour by wearing a terry towelling {Aussies say this instead of “terry cloth”} hat and some zinc on your nose à la Super Dag

Here is what you should plan otherwise:

· Bring your cozzie {swimming suit} and a beach towel along, just in case there is a pool or if you’ll be at the beach.
· Be “SunSmart.” If you’re planning on being in the sun, be sure to wear a sun hat and bring enough sunscreen for you and your family to use.
· Wear your sunnies {Aussie for “sunglasses”}.
· Feel free to rock up {Aussie for “show up”} to the party in your thongs {Aussie for “flip-flops“} too.
· Or you could just show up barefoot

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Vegemite, Mate!

“Buying bread from a man in Brussels. He was six-foot-four and full of muscles. I said, ‘Do you speak-a my language?’ He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.”  Men At Work – Down Under

Vegemite, an Australian cultural food phenomenon, is basically concentrated yeast extract made from beer. Yes, beer. Actually it is made from used brewers’ yeast extract, which is a by-product of beer making. It is also made from celery and onion extracts.

I recall the first time I tried it.  The flavor flavour: was very salty. Bitter. The spreadable concoction has a texture which is thick, grainy and is dark brown in color colour.

I immediately tasted that it has a malty, soy saucey-like flavor flavour…

Do Aussies really love it?

Usually, yes.

Do I like it?

With an acquired taste, I find that I will like it eventually. Hugh Jackman got Oprah to try it and she liked it!  I already expected it to be different, kind of like eating the Dutch drop candies for the first time…

History:

Have you ever heard of Marmite?  Vegemite is not quite as intense as Marmite from Great Britain, and it is not as sweet as Marmite from New Zealand.  Now owned by American corporation Kraft Foods Inc, Dr. Cyril P. Callister created Vegemite in 1922 for Fred Walker Company, when the company gave him the task of developing a Marmite-like spread from the yeast that breweries were throwing out. It took a while before Vegemite caught on with the Aussies. For two years, a jar was given with every product the company sold, and by the late 1940s the country was in love with the stuff — It was even in Australian Army rations during World War II.

Today: Each year more than 22 million jars are produced. Callister’s recipe has remained unchanged, and in Australia Vegemite outsells Marmite and other spreads like it.

Uses:

Vegemite is best used as a bread spread, an Aussie favorite favourite on breakfast toast. They first toast a slice of bread and they butter the toast, and then they top it off with a very thin layer of Vegemite. Australians are practically weaned on it from the first day they can eat it, but it’s definitely an acquired taste.

Other ways to eat it:

Now that I’ve tried it, I can’t imagine it on anything but toast with butter, but some also like it on their sandwich with cheese and often veggies as well.   A Vegemite sandwich {mentioned in the Men At Work song “Down Under”} is typically two slices of buttered bread, Vegemite & cheese, but you can also add other ingredients like tomato and avocado slices.

· Kosher {click here} — Since 2010, they’ve made kosher Vegemite.
· Cheesybite {click here} — Vegemite + cream cheese.  I haven’t tried it yet.
· My First Vegemite {click here} — Wean your children into the addiction.
· Recipes {click here} — Not sure I’ll attempt to make any yet…

Soldier Cup

Soldier Cup Kit

· ‘Vegemite Soldiers’

Done in the UK as well {called ‘Marmite Soldiers’}, also called ‘Dippy Eggs,’ are one other common way to eat Vegemite. Cut toasted bread, spread with butter and Vegemite, in small pieces and dip them in a soft-boiled egg. They’re more commonly called ‘Vegemite Soldiers’ because to the toast slices resemble soldiers standing in formation. For the bigger fans, you can even buy a special soldier egg cup and toast cutter here or here.

Where to buy Vegemite:

In Australia, it is found in every supermarket in a variety of sizes, but worldwide Vegemite can be found in some specialty and gourmet stores {often a small jar would be seen on the same aisle as peanut butter in Dutch supermarkets} and is also available through online mail order {like here}. Note: Promite is similar to Vegemite, if Vegemite is not available.

Official Vegemite website: here.  Read more about Vegemite: here.

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