Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas on Bondi Beach

Lou and I arrived in Australia on New Year's Eve. It was a rainy day so we toured the famous Opera House and walked around the city to get acquainted.

Bondi beach is a quick train and bus ride from downtown Sydney and reportedly the place to be on Christmas day, and so we went. A large mass of hot, silky sand was welcoming after a few cold, rainy days back in San Francisco. I had expected the beach to be filled with Australian families spending quality holiday time together while throwing some “shrimp on the barbie” but in reality it was full of young Aussies hanging out with their friends. It could have been mistaken for an American 4th of July had it not been for the Santa hats everyone was wearing, and some of the red Santa bikinis trimmed with white fur.

The beach goers brought pre-prepared picnic fare instead of the imagined barbecues. The natives were eating buckets of shrimp cocktail while a group of Asian immigrants who sat close to us put soy sauce on their sandwich rolls. Much of the food was not only pre-prepared, but pre-packaged. Chips that taste like chicken seem to be all the rage. The few ocean-side barbecues we saw in action were not emitting the sweet, succulent smells you’d imagine from shrimp and crab, but of over-charred red meat which lay across their grills. Needless to say, it was not a “foodie’s” event.

We ate a late lunch at a sidewalk cafĂ© where we had originally just stopped for a drink, but since Lou was ordering a beer, we had to also order food due to the Christmas day licenses issued for sidewalk seating. (Apparently, Bondi beach is trying to tone down the Christmas festivities.) I ordered a mixed chicken and steak fajita that turned out to be more Cajun than Mexican and Lou ordered some garlic and butter prawns-you can’t go wrong with shrimp in Australia.

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