Friday, 10 August 2007

Notes from the Deep South

As British English "gyratory circus" is to American English "roundabout", so be Melburnean English "pot" to Sydneian English "middy" (both of which, for those of you not au fait with Australingual beerology, are the words you'll be using when you order y'rself a swift half pint of full-cream dairy-milk mead down the pub). When it comes to fronting up at a bar and specifying my desired volume of liquor, I prefer asking for a pony: "I'll 'ave a pony of shandy, please - lashings of lemonade". This would be so regardless of the pony's size, simply because "pony of shandy" sounds seventeen times better than "schooner of shandy" or "jug of shandy" or "tot-glass of shandy" or even "thimbleful of shandy". Most people down here in the Deep South buy their beer by the pot, so, in the interests of cultural assimilation, I've learnt to suppress my philoponyism and take my shandies pot-size.

I wasn't always so at ease with the ways of the southern publican, though. Shortly after I arrived in this here smokin' town, I noticed that my local establishment proudly offered a $10 Tuesday night "Parma and Pot Special". In New South Wales, the Parma is a breed of wallaby (that's macropus parma, to you) and pot's, well, this, so you'll understand why I thought $10 was awful cheap. It didn't take long before I came round to the pot concept. It was just a matter of tinkering with my lexicon. Middy equals pot does not equal this. But "parma"? The Oxford English Dictionary, my tour guide and travel companion of choice, suggested "Parma" as an abbreviation for any of "Parma violet", "Parma ham", or the aforementioned "Parma wallaby". None of these, on reflection, seemed likely candidates for the Tuesday night special.

In fact, it turns out - and I've only gleaned this by virtue of extensive fraternisation with the natives - "Parma" is Victoria's national dish, the gustatory anthem, the salute to all things Melburnean and publy, and consists of a slab of dead beast, crumbed, deep fried and bedaubed with red sauce and cheese. They eat it down here like Newtowners eat Thai tofu green curry. Which I mention, lest any of you are under the impression that this whole inter-state migration thingy is just a walk in the park. They speak a whole different dialect down here. And they eat Parma instead of tofu green curry (inexplicably). And their middies are called pots. And their castles cassells. This cross-cultural encounter fandango, it's not easy.

12 comments:

nailpolishblues said...

Queensland is also a land of the pot - though I suspect for environmental reasons. Personally, I cannot understand beer in a small glass as it just means going to the bar more often.

Shandies make me think of warm summer days and childhood. I have no idea why.

alexis said...

Hey, personally I don't really understand beer, which makes me quite the minority. This, I realise, is the kind of confession that loses me friends. What can I say? I like all the paraphernalia, the bottles and the cans and the glasses and the cardboard coasters and the aluminium barrels.

nailpolishblues said...

A lot of people don't understand beer. It took me a while but I finally got there with poverty and $2 pots. Beer became my friend. A very good friend. We spent nights and nights and nights and nights together.

TimT said...

Ah, Victoriana - the land where the Right To Bear Parms is still staunchly maintained.

nailpolishblues said...

You ought to be killed for that, Tim. Parmed to death.

alexis said...

Celebrated annually the Sunday before Easter.

Miss Eagle said...

Dear LH, try migrating from the NT to the wilds of Melbourne suburbia - without a Bundy and coke in a handle! I ask for it in a tall glass but that doesn't provide adequate quantity!

Blessings and bliss

TimT said...

Chaucer wrote about it, you know.

"And straunges for to seken Parma strondes"

By which he meant, of course, and "strangers seek out Parma restaurants." 'Strondes' is Old English for 'restaurants;, the sort of restaurant where they only serve traditional English food stuffs like beef, ale, Yorkshire Pudding and Parma.

alexis said...

I've heard about those Bundies and Cokes, Miss Eagle. There used to be a song about Bundaberg Rum, alleging that it "tanned your insides and put hair on your bum", so I've always been a little cautious.

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