The Commoner

My nephew, who knows a lot more about food than I did at his age, recommended The Commoner. Last trip we’d established early on that Australia does French better than the French. So does it do English better than the English?

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Somehow the word I want to use for the food is ‘sound’, and I mean that to be a compliment. It isn’t flightily fashionable. Doesn’t it have an honesty about it, like it hasn’t been touched up in some way that would be impossible to do at home? It looks like food, not edible art. Having said that, and looking at these pictures, the thing that baffles me is that this restaurant touts itself as one of those ‘sharing’ food places. Really? I mean, apart from the olives? Me, I’m for keeping a butter knife handy to shoo away anybody who gets too close to mine.

I like the Melbourne food blog Gluttony Fair which had this to say on the subject a while ago:

T word.

I hate Tapas.
Let me rephrase: I hate the word ‘Tapas’.
Allow me to elaborate: I hate the abuse and exploitation of the word in Australia.

It is supposed to be tiny appetizers before a proper main meal: olives, chorizo sausages, marinated anchovies at 1 or 2 Euros per dish, the equivalent of cold dish like pig’s ears and shredded beadcurd skins of Sze Chuan cuisine; the edamame beans and agedashi tofu of Japanese food.

But in Australia, Tapas simply meant ‘reduced portion food at double the price’.

And how does the food industry sugar coat this? By introducing another frequently abused word: Sharing.

Every time I see a menu that starts with ‘At Expensivito we encourage our patrons to share..’ I roll my eyes, take one big gulp from my glass of tap water, and assume the brace position.

I saw a Nando’s commercial the other day encouraging me to ‘eat interestingly’ by, cue drumroll, sharing. You know it’s bad (and lucrative) when fast food franchises are adapting the same attitude.

It’s too late to do anything now. We as a whole allowed that to happen. The first time your girlfriends screamed at the foreign word, and thought it was ok to pay twice as much for some Spanish food they’ve never heard of, and we agreed, the game was over.

The word has even mutated. I walked past a restaurant the other day and saw what was perhaps the filthiest, most disgusting, gang-banging food glossary I’ve ever seen for a long time:

Mexican Tapas.

I thoroughly recommend Gluttony Fair, but more on that soon.


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