When a storm in a jam jar is a sign of more sinister things
A RECENT trip to Sydney to hear American absurdist David Sedaris read from his latest book was an eye-opener.
I've been a fan of Sedaris for many years; my bookshelf contains all his titles so I wasn't shocked by the (truly shocking) things he read out. Instead, like most of the other fans in the audience, I enjoyed many laugh-out-loud moments. He is a fearless performer who has eliminated the term "politically correct" from his extensive vocabulary. Not one of his jokes could I reproduce in a family newspaper.
What did throw me, though, was eating at a harbour-side restaurant after the show. I haven't lived in a city since 2002 and I rarely have the cash needed to eat in on-trend cafés when given the opportunity.
In this establishment, the chef and waiters sported man-buns, tribal tatts and bushranger beards (prompting my thorough search for stray hair in my food), and there was nary a plate or glass in sight. Instead, food was presented on any object that could be made horizontal. Planks, breadboards, wire baskets, terracotta tiles and odd bits of bamboo abounded, while the beverages (not the wine, thankfully) arrived in jars.
Now, I'm aware of the hipster trend that started some years ago of recycling jars to serve drinks. I'm loving the concept of recycling anything, really - I still use my wedding gift towels from the 70s to dry my dogs.
However, putting the thick threaded lip of a glass container to my mouth gives me the creeps. I can't explain why; perhaps I'm just a princess - I don't even like a beaded edge on a wineglass.
But these days, restaurateurs actually buy purpose-made jars for juices, frappes and whatever else is the beverage flavour-of-the-month - the handles on the side are a dead giveaway.
So, no longer is it an exercise in environmental good vibes; instead they have yet more stuff that will end up in landfill after the trend passes.
Earlier this year, a British steakhouse was fined $86,000 for serving meals on wooden boards that couldn't be sanitised. A friend of mine who is a chef remarked recently that nine-tenths of his job consisted of cleaning; it's essential for commercial food-preparation and storage areas to be kept squeaky clean to prevent outbreaks of food poisoning. Hygiene aside, serving food on boards just doesn't make sense.
Plates are designed to keep the food ON the plate; that's why they have a lip. You show me a serve of bangers and mash plonked on a fence paling and I'll show you an angry diner and a hefty dry-cleaning bill.
What's next? How about soup in a bedpan, salad in a hairnet or pavlova in a toolbox. Am I too out-of-touch? Perhaps this is just a storm in a jam jar.