A few weeks ago, I went down to a place called Cabramatta with Ross & Jonathon. In the Vietnamese language, the word Cabramatta means “Where the fuck are we?”
Ok, no it doesn’t. Well, it might, but I really don’t know. I’m going to assume no.
Cabramatta is a suburb somewhere in between East Bumblefuck and BFE, about 45 minutes away from Sydney by train. Historically a diverse area due to nearby immigrant housing projects, the population of the area swelled with immigrants from Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War. This turned Cabramatta into somewhat of a little Vietnam. So, before venturing into the real Asia one day, I figured this would be a good introduction.
There’s one important thing I confirmed in Cabramatta: I don’t like Vietnamese food.
I mean, I like Asian food, and it’s a staple of my diet. Thai food is great, and I love (Americanized) Chinese food – especially on Christmas! I’ve tried Vietnamese a time or two before and never really enjoyed it, but that was in Houston so I thought maybe it would be better here. This was the real deal. And it was definitely worse.
We walked around the streets passing by dozens of little markets just full of meat-like substances that I would never consider putting anywhere near my mouth. Then we sat down at a restaurant and I looked over the menu. Pork, prawns, pork, prawns, pork, pork, pork, beef, prawns. Not great for a Jew. And I don’t eat beef either. They had a few chicken dishes, but the photos next to the selections looked questionable. What part of the chicken was this meat coming from? And are we sure it’s actually a chicken?
I decided on a vegetarian dish.
I got noodles and vegetables. The dish was bland. Extremely bland. What do vegetarians do in Vietnam? How do they survive? All I could think about was how good a burrito would’ve been right about then. That led me to an epiphany: I should move to Cabramatta. Or Vietnam. Either one. With all that bland, boring, tasteless, rubbery food, can you imagine how much I wouldn’t eat, and how much weight I would lose? I’d look like a starving Ethiopian in a matter of weeks. Wait, wait. Let me rephrase that. I’d look like a starving albino Ethiopian in a matter of weeks. That’s better.
The question that I’d like to pose is: Why can’t all Asian food be like P.F. Chang’s?
You don’t have to answer that question, because I know some of you will be up in arms. But just think about it. The world would be a better place.
Cabramatta is a taste of Asia… and it tastes bad.
This brings me back to that shotgun Buddhist Vietnamese wedding that I went to back in college. The bride’s family was the band, and they were nothing more than stereotypical drunk karaoke singers who only spoke a smattering of English. This one dude struggled through Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. It was painful.