Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Extrapolating from one data point

Michele: Are all Australian garlic presses wonky, or just ours? As we’ve settled in we’ve found ourselves bumping into this type of question again and again. Which of our limited experience could be representative of life in Australia? I’ve tried in this blog to be careful not to make sweeping generalizations about they way things are done down under. Afterall, things could be different the next town over. Actually, since we are in Mission Beach, I’m SURE they are different the next town over.

Wondering about all this reminds me of some conversations with my European friends back in graduate school. From their experiences in the SF bay area they would make generalizations for the US. For example, they would lament the lack of public transit in the United States. But I would counter; the east coast indeed has perfectly functional public transportation! On a geologic field trip to Utah my Dutch friends were convinced that all of the US outside of the SF bay area featured cuisine like that found in rural Utah. I recall often feeling the need to explain and defend what might be representative of the US. Despite my earnest explanations, I don’t think they ever really believed me.

Perhaps Australians would feel the need to defend some of the generalizations that I’m starting to make. The Aussie washing machines are constantly off-balance and the garlic presses only give 60% yield of garlic. Maybe the Bruce highway really has more than two lanes somewhere -- but I don’t believe it.


  1. And remember, the only way they ever cook shrimp is on the barbie!


  2. Don't they have Ikea in AU? I got a great garlic press there, haha. And you remind me of the "Pauline Kael syndrome." The late New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael famously said after Nixon’s landslide reelection, “How can he have won? Nobody I know voted for him.”

  3. Part of the problem is that you're living in Australia's functional equivalent to rural Utah - and not even going to Townsville makes up for that! The biggest difference is that a lot of the food around Cairns is actually really good...

  4. We haven't had any really good food yet. The costs are high enough that we haven't wanted to take the kids out with us. However, because the grandparents are in town, Gavin and I went out tonight to the Thai place. It was OK but I've never had pad thai with such greasy noodles before....