Australia Day & why the national hangover needs a cure all

With the billious nationalistic excess known as Australia Day looming large in the next 24 hours, fuelled as it is by bogan bushranger pride and goon bags at 20 paces, I find myself a tad melancholic that our country’s identity is languishing in an uber-lazy-arsed default position when it comes to the most revered of all Australian pastimes … the almighty hangover.

Let’s cut to the chase. An international study has revealed that, along with Britain, Australians have voted the ‘fry up’ as the ultimate culinary panacea for our self-indulgent ills.

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Really? I’m sorry, but, really, is that the best we can do?

What does this say about our creative currency on the world stage when Namibia, Mongolia and even New Zealand have hangover cures of singular, exotic and more extravagant distinction?

Australia, behold, here are some inspired cures from both past and present cultures that should see our heads hang(over) in shame.

Come On Aussie Come On and get your sore and sorry act together while you’re at it.

Hangover Ancient Rome

Nothing so bland as a Caesar Salad for Ancient Rome. It’s Birdy yum yum.

Hangover Ancient Greece

Not to be outdoner kebabed, the Ancient Greeks’ equivalent to Surf & Turf … the Hoot and Holler.

Hangover US

On a wing and a prairie oyster.

Hangover Scotland

For a well-Irned hangover, or if you’ve just got Bru-ers’ droop.

Hangover Mongolia

Perhaps best served up with a Visine slammer.

Hangover Hungary

Good grief. Now there’s Birdy bum bum!

Hangover Sicily

Otherwise known as phallo-illogical.

Hangover Peru

It was all going so well until they mentioned scraps!

Hangover Namibia

If the hangover doesn’t kill you, the coronary will.

Hangover Philippines

Poached …. with some ffffava beans and a nice Chianti?

Hangover NZ

Even our bros across the Tasman have something truly their own to nurse the next day.

So what have I got to offer by way of alternative?

The great Australian hangover cure, as far as I’m concerned, involves the lick of a cane toad’s skin followed by a Passiona chaser.  For those unfamiliar with either, the first is psychotropical and the latter is, well, just kinda tropical!

But hey, I’m no expert. What’s the great Australian hangover cure lurking in YOUR medicine cabinet?

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Crazy Kickstarters that put the arse into ars gratia artis

For reasons that remain somewhat unclear, Kickstarter’s Potato Salad Guy has captured everyone’s imagination these past few days. Having asked for a mere $10, he’s now been pledged over $70,000 and his humble (if you’re being polite … otherwise utterly banal) plans have gone viral. Here are some other crazy Kickstarter ideas I wrote about a few months back.

THE MEANING OF LARF

Kickstarter funding succeeded well ahead of its December deadline for the creation of the world’s largest jock strap, which only goes to prove that what constitutes creativity is also in the eye of the beholder.

With over $1 billion in pledges under its belt since 2009 and with its current poster girl, The Veronica Mars Movie raising $2 million in the first 24 hours of its appeal, Kickstarter is now a serious crowdfunding business model and something of a juggernaut.

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But I prefer to think of it as a Petri dish of quixotic artistic lunacy where a meeting of creative nutjobs and their zealots’ wallets can mosh with their sweaty dosh.

Scratch the surface and you’ll realise that some of the weirdest creative pursuits that got the thumbs up from the rabble start to make Kickstarter feel more like the Colosseum …. if Derek Zoolander was Nero and the whole…

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Sydney’s Grotta Capri – the Restaurant at the End of the Universe

In the suburban wasteland of my youth, the scorching sun bleached dog poo to a whiter shade of pale on bitumen of black lava and mournful sounds of punters losing their crumpled notes at the nearby racecourse wafted pointlessly across west-facing shopfronts with half closed blinds, as if the windows’ eyes were cast downward in shame.

Amidst this soulless, stultifying stillness stood the preposterous oasis that was the Grotta Capri restaurant.

Grotta Capri interior 2grotta 1

I hated growing up in Kensington as passionately as I loved the Grotta Capri, often wondering how a suburb as unprepossessing as mine could be worthy of such grandeur.  It was as if a meteorite with a Rococo pop sensibility had crash landed on Planet Banality; a folly of shell-studded stalactites, fish tanks, Tyrrhenian trompe l’oeil awash with blue light and, in its early days at least, waterways complete with sound effects running beneath illuminated Perspex underfoot.

grotta bar

Grotta exterior good

That it was a restaurant was largely peripheral to proceedings.  The plastic sleeve was the tastiest thing on the menu and most of what got served up looked like crumbed cocker spaniel anyway.  

Of far greater note were the cocktails.  For reasons which remained unclear, there was an over-reliance on Advocaat in most of the recipes, making for a frothy tipple that just about scrambled itself on the way down.  Quite handy then that the accompanying mermaid and dolphin-themed plastic swizzle sticks, glowing like uranium under the black light, could be used to fish out the coagulated egg swinging from your epiglottis like Miley Cyrus.

If that didn’t make for enough high weirdness, the tables were occupied by SP bookies with bad rugs and polyester slacks that crackled with static, accompanied by their dubious, er, business associates from the neighbouring racetrack – the sort of people who put the ‘colourful’ into ‘racing identity’.

Grotta Capri filming Underbelly in 2011

The Grotta Capri played host to both the famous and infamous, featured in the Australian film favourite Muriel’s Wedding and television series Underbelly, and it was with utter delight that as an adult I also got to accompany Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for dinner when they were on tour, not so much for the name-dropportunity but to witness how comprehensively perplexed and uncomfortable they appeared to be amongst all that hideous fabulousness.

I shed a salty tear or two in 2010 when the Grotta Capri closed after 60 years. While Giovanni Battista’s ode to the life aquatic might have been made out of chicken wire and cement, it played a distinguished role for me in nourishing the vivid imagination of a small child in what was otherwise a vapid suburban commuter belt of antimatter.

grotta exterior night

I’m just sorry Douglas Adams never made it to the Grotta Capri because if nothing else, its Advocaat-crash cocktails would have given the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster a run for its money any old day.

(Ps. So long and thanks for all the Fishermen’s Baskets)

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Lord of the (Burger) Rings

I’m calling a moratorium on the latter day breed of steampunk hipster serving me my weekend coffee with the furrowed brow of one preoccupied with his lifehacking pursuits.

If, like me, you’re sick of the type of barista who says ‘Hey, that’s funny!’ while deadpanning you in his leather shoes (no socks), then you’re ripe for the thoroughly authentic weirdness that is the Common Ground Cafe.Image

Tucked away in the Blue Mountains at the arse-end of Katoomba Street, Common Ground Cafe is like stepping onto the set of Lord of the Rings if the Amish were running the catering van.

The cafe is managed by members of the Twelve Tribes which, depending on your point of view are either a Fundamentalist Christian cult of dubious persuasion or, if you’ve had a chronic case of the munchies at any Australian music festival of note, the perpetrators of the most awesome Barramundi Burger in the history of the Universe.

While their fresh and tasty food is to be applauded, the real star of Common Ground Cafe is the decor. Lovingly handcrafted and installed by the brethren, every nook and cranny transports you to Narnia nirvana. That they’ve also bothered to create tables for one with the same level of TLC and whimsy is indeed singular in every sense.

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The cafe is somewhat of a tourist clusterfuck but because the staff display a gentle quietude that suggests they are tilling the field rather than fielding the till, Common Ground still feels like an oasis in a desert of rampant consumerism.

The fact is they’re raking in the dough, but I’m good with that for three reasons; the food is fresh and organic, they keep their religious predilections to themselves and most importantly, they serve up my coffee with authenticity rather than the contrived individualism of a fashion fractal spat out by Wallpaper or Nylon magazine.

Common Ground puts the uncommon into common and that is to be celebrated … and the burgers are better too.