One thing that shocked me no end a couple of years ago was that my American friend didn’t know what vegemite was. She’d never heard of it. I couldn’t believe it. I know that pretty much everybody except Australians don’t like the stuff, but still…it’s our National food. And then, just a few days ago, another American friend confessed she didn’t know what Milo was.
I decided then and there that my American friends needed some cultural education if they were going to be friends with me. We Aussies may not have much in the way of culture, per se, but we do know how to spread toast and how to suck Milo through a Tim Tam. And that’s about as cultural as we need to be…really. Well…
So, in the interest of expanding all our cultural horizons, I made them all up an Aussie pack. I packed an Australian book for them each as well (because actually I DO believe we have a valuable culture beyond Arnotts and Kraft…which the Americans own anyway). Here’s my offering:
How to be an Aussie: a user’s guide to the contents of this pack.
- Make toast. Butter it while it’s still hot. Spread it with a thin layer of vegemite. Drool. Eat.
- Open Milo packet. Scoop two (or more) heaped teaspoons into a mug. Fill mug with boiling water. Stir. Top up mug with small amount of milk. Drool.
- Open packet of Tim Tams. Remove first one. Insert first section (approximately one centimeter) into mouth. Bite. Turn Tim Tam around and repeat the process at the other end, so that both ends are bitten (some purists believe that opposite corners are better for this process rather than opposite ends).
- Hold Tim Tam in the centre. Insert bottom bitten end (or corner) into mug of hot Milo. Place mouth on opposite end. Suck Milo through Tim Tam like a straw. Suck until chocolate starts melting on your fingers, and then quickly insert rest of biscuit into mouth before total collapse. Smile.
- Sip Milo.
- Open book. Read.
- Repeat steps 4-7 until some sense of completeness has been established. Possibly the end of the Tim Tams, or the end of your stomach capacity. Generally the end of the mug of Milo. Sometimes the end of the book.
Some extra tips:
Obviously once you have mastered this you should be capable and confident to move onto more advanced Australianisms such as inserting swear-words in the middle of a sentence without noticing, or, for extra credit, in the middle of a word without noticing, just to prove you do have a fabulous vo-effing-cabulary.
Watching the cricket at least once a season is also an essential. The first Test starts today in Brisbane between Australia and South Africa, just to whet your appetite. Or your apper-!@#$-tite if you prefer, although such words can be considered vulgar his side of the Summer holidays.
Insult people well, and learn that the better people insult you the fonder their affection.
And lastly, stop taking people’s words at face value. Why do Americans do that? Just because someone says something rude doesn’t mean it’s what they mean! Surely it’s not THAT hard to understand…
So that’s my guide for my American friends. What do you think…have I forgotten any essentials? What books do you think I should pack for them that typify Australian culture? And, most importantly, do you think sucking Milo through a Tim Tam and learning to spread vegemite toast should be a prerequisite for all Australians?