lifestyle

The Great Australia Day Meat Pie War.

When it comes to food, I have been raised with a meat-and-three-veg approach of level headed moderation.

I was raised with a BBQ on the deck, cordial in the fridge, a penchant for devon sandwiches, and twelve months of country boarding school thrown in for good measure. (Three years as an impoverished Arts student contributed to my not-so-precious palette, too.) Picky eater? Not me, sir!

However, encircled with family and friends whose ease of eating is marred with a variety of allergies, veganism, vegetarianism, activism, food intolerances and tolerance issues in general; I have become something of an anomaly.

I eat bread. I eat sugar. I eat meat. I even drink cow’s milk.

You would think this would make my life easy, wouldn’t you?

Alas, my life as an Easy Eater had a head on collision with the goji berry yogis and nut-butter nutters for the first time last weekend, at a friend’s four-day ‘wedstival’ in the Kangaroo Valley.

It was the War of The Meat Pie.

It all began when my boyfriend, his sister, and I were in the car together, ready to pull out of the country town we were staying in to head back to Sydney. They are vegetarians, you see, which means not only do they choose not to eat meat, they choose to tell me at every given opportunity not to eat meat, too.

Here we are in happier times, at the wedding the day before. He looks pretty normal, doesn’t he?

“Wait, wait. I need a coffee. Anyone want anything?”

I looked around the car to two rather bleak faces. It was Australia Day, and nothing was open. The only option we had was the local bakery, which, without any kind of organic signage, was not exactly up their alley.

“Yes, a coffee. And something to eat. SOMETHING VEGETARIAN.” My boyfriend gave me a stern look. His sister, an even sterner vegetarian but still a very nice person, shook her head politely.

Off I trotted into the local bakery. Oooh! I squealed internally. Freshly baked bread! Creamy neenish tarts! Tangy passionfruit slice and…oh wow, look at those pies. Golden, flakey, true-blue Aussie meat pies. After ordering the coffees and some kind of vegetarian pastry for my dear partner, I pointed to the chunky steak pie.

“I’ll take a pie, thanks.”

The jolly little woman with her lipstick drawn well outside her lips beamed at me at she bundled my freshly baked pie into a paper bag.

“I threw the sauce in for free, love. Happy Australia Day.” With a wink she turned back to the cash register and I stepped through the plastic fly screen flaps with a happy heart.

A meat pie on Australia Day. With free tommy sauce. Could life get any better?

Jumping back in the car, I handed my partner his very vegetarian pastry and coffee as he started the engine. Grinning, I plucked my pie from its foil and doused it in tomato sauce. The first bite was heaven, the kind of rich chunky steak pie you only really find in country towns. But something was not right.

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The engine was switched off.

The rear passenger window was wound down.

Exaggerated gagging noises could be heard, and I could feel two sets of judging eyes upon me.

Oh, for f*cks sake, I thought. They cannot be for real.

What ensued was a brief but violent scuffle of words between the three of us the involved things like “…freedom of eating”, “…my car, my rules”, “…the great Australian cuisine”, and my personal favourite, “…who even eats pies for breakfast anyway?!”

I was tossed from the car, and my pie was tossed in the bin. The terrible twosome could not, and would not, coexist avec mon pie for the drive home.

The vegetarians were appalled and I was livid. The Great Pie War had been fought, and I had lost. My precious pie was now left to rot in the bottom of the Kangaroo Valley General Store’s bin, and I was left to rot in a puddle of fury in the front seat.

Gleeful in their victory, my pain-in-the-arse boyfriend and his sister rattled on about god knows what – lentils, presumably – whilst I stared icily out the window. It was close on forty minutes before we reached the next town, and with my stomach flipping inside out at the cruel tease of my ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ pie-no-pie trickery, I was furiously hangry.

“STOP. THE. CAR.”

Glaring at them both with a stare that could have shot out lasers, I got out of the car, and slammed the door.

I huffed and puffed as I stomped up the main street of the small country town, passing cafe after cafe of beautiful food. What could I possibly eat that wouldn’t upset them both? I was trapped in an Audi A3 Hatchback coffin, destined to starve to death as my captors popped activated almonds and swigged on peach kombucha.

When they finally caught up with me, I was second in line at an upmarket coffee shop that boasted an impressive array of pastries, quiches, baguettes, and sweets. My partner and his sister spotted the green smoothie board and flapped their wings in excitement. Allowing them to push in front, I surveyed the counter as they put through their orders.

Finally, it was my turn.

“And you, ma’am, can I get you anything?” Smiling sweetly, I pointed to the heated cabinet behind the serving counter.

“Yes, thanks. One meat pie.”

The tomato sauce wasn’t free, and standing in a crowded cafe wasn’t ideal, but the crunch of that delicious meat pie on a cold and wet Australia Day was worth the wait. Oh, and the look at their faces as they struggled down a lentil and cauliflower pie? Priceless.

I smiled the whole way home; for the war was won, and my pie was had.

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