David Morley


THOSE OF YOU who have been paying attention will know that Iím travelling at the moment; driving my 30-year-old Ginza army tank up and down Australia. As a result, Iím eating out a bit more. Now, when youíre at home and decide to treat yourself, you usually have a pretty good idea of where you want to eat as well as whatís likely to be on the menu. But in a new town, thatís not the case.

And itís here that The Speaker of the House and I often come to an impasse. My solution is simple. I walk along till I find a restaurant that looks like it might have something I want. I then go inside, arrange myself at a table and perform a simple transaction: They give me the food. I give them the money. Nobody gets hurt.

Not The Speaker. Until she has scrutinised every menu from every eatery sheís not content to make a call. So I stumble along behind her, secretly scoping out the breakfast menu, since experience tells me that by the time sheís come to a decision, it could easily be next morning.

Anyway. At one place up the coast recently, she spied a calamari dish. Now, when it comes to seafood, Iím a junkie. But I also take a fairly simple approach. Drag a squid out of the water, crack it on the bonce, drain the ink, cut it into strips and grill it lightly. Serve. Enjoy. But this particular restaurant had also decided to ruin the whole thing by slathering poor old Squiddly Diddly with sweet chilli sauce. Now, just as ham and pineapple isnít a real pizza and an SUV isnít a real four-wheel drive, sweet chilli sauce is not real chilli sauce. Itís a sticky, sickly, toxic fluid designed to appease the juvenile tastebuds of food-tards everywhere. It has no place on lunch.

The Speaker senses my tension. Okay, she says, scratch the squid, but at least look at the chefís suggestions. Why, asks I? Why would I trust the judgment of, and accept a suggestion from, a person who puts sweet chilli sauce on something previously edible? The bloke wants a smack in the head with a dead squid. I hope itís Gordon Ramsay.

And itís not just restaurants. I get like this with car makers, too. As in, I donít want a sporty coupe designed by the same team that thought hot-rod-style suicide doors were the right thing to do. Remember the Mazda RX-8? A disappointing car in so many ways, but those stupid backward-hinged rear doors were the icing on the goof-cake. And even though I loved the rotary engine, those weirdo doors put me off the whole concept.

And while I can appreciate an offset bonnet-scoop, I kind of have a personal rule that a car should possess a minimum degree of symmetry. With the result that I really bunch my panties at the thought of a car thatís a coupe from the driverís side and a sedan from the kerb. Do I like the Hyundai Veloster? Depends on how you look at it. Literally. Iím just not mentally ready for that level of novelty, I guess. Same as a kale smoothie, I reckon.

Nor do I want a muscle car with a hot-hatch engine. Stand up Mustang EcoBoost. Of course I love muscle cars (natch) and hot hatches (double natch), but I donít want a combination of the two any more than I want a fruit-salad kebab. I have to be honest here and say that the blown four-pot Pony is actually a good car. But that engine in that car is never going to make it on to my menu.

Strangely, I donít have the same negative response to the new Commodore with its front-drive and four-cylinder engine flying in the face of decades of rear-drive and V8 shunt. Because the new Holden is simply different to the old Holdens. Itís a trip into the future, rather than a romp through Stooge-Town. Thing is, the four-banger taildragger ZB is the version Iíd buy, mainly because I canít see the point in the all-paw V6 version. When the uncomplicated, cheaper base model works so well, isnít the extra weight, complexity and cost just a layer of something you didnít need?

I mean, if itís already edible, why the hell would you dip it in sweet chilli sauce? Unless itís a mango parmigiana, of course. íCos thatíd totally make sense.