Adjusting to life in Mudgee without readily available burritos has been tough, however, it’s forced me to discover two new incredible food items: Flavoured Tuna and Meat Pies.
Turns out, Australia has mastered canned mango-salsa tuna in a way that you’ve probably never imagined. Picture big juicy mangoes hanging from a tree. Now imagine a hot shirtless Australian man making mango salsa (in his rustic kitchen that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The same ocean he got that cruelty-free tuna from.) Now imagine all of that goodness in single serve can available on special for .99 cents. Do you need a cigarette after that canned tuna fantasy too?
I love that I now live in a country where I can freely indulge my love of tuna. When I was in elementary school in the US, I used to want to bring tuna sandwiches to school, but kids would always make fun of anyone who did. (Maybe it was because Nina Miller always got her tuna meat stuck in her braces.) Regardless, eating tuna on campus was a definite no-no. However, my love of tuna didn’t fade and years later when I was a camp counsellor at the same school, I proudly opened a can of tuna at lunch and dug in with some crackers. Surely we had matured past our tuna discrimination phase, right? Hunter, my co-counsellor, surprised me from behind. He looked at me and then my tuna and said, “Summer – I didn’t know you were an IAMS girl.”
For some reason, being compared to a feline lapping up wet cat food was enough to make me stop eating tuna in public in America. I cannot tell you how happy I am to now live in Australia where we all accept our inner cats and everyone openly consumes that deliciously smelly low-calorie lunch we call, “chuna.”
The first time I had a meat pie was on a road trip from Perth to Darwin in 2009. My boyfriend had told me that I must have a meat pie from a “servo station.” After figuring out what a “servo station” was (it’s a gas station, not a brothel), I walked inside and started searching for the pie section. I don’t know why, but I had imagined a man in a baker’s hat rolling out dough and a cloud of flour blurring my vision. Turns out there are a bunch of pre-packaged pies in a glass and metal pie warmer. A bit sceptical, I ordered a steak and pepper pie and got a packet of ketchup. The pie was glorious and everything my stomach needed after living on boring sausages and white bread for a month. I washed it down with a $4.50 can of Coke 0. The thirst quenching happening in my mouth was enough to make me consider sex for money so I could continue to afford endless cans of Coke 0. (Plus, I already had the perfect hooker name: Servo Station.)
The next time I had a pie, I didn’t even know I had consumed it until the following morning. All I know is that I woke up in the beachy backpacker town of Byron Bay with ketchup in my hair and a pie wrapper in between my bed sheets. It was hard to piece together the story and I was embarrassed to ask my friends, so it’s the pie mystery that I don’t technically count on my “How Many Pies Have You Eaten” list. (Does just the crust count?)
This is an edited excerpt from Summer In Oz. Get Summer Land’s hilarious memoir, Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did, here or at The Shop by Botobolar at 28 Church Street.
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