What I thought about this Australia Day

So yesterday was Australia Day here in Aus (26 January 2016). It’s a public holiday and in casual fashion, I spent the entire summer afternoon at my friend Courtney’s pool party. We ate a feast of “classic” and stereotypical Aussie foods that consisted of Honey Joys (Oh! The joys of childhood!), lamingtons, meat pies, and vanilla custard slices… It’s funny because I haven’t eaten half of these foods since I was a kid, and now my diet consists mainly of foods and cuisines from other countries like: Vietnamese pho beef noodles, Indian curries, Italian style wood-oven pizzas, Thai pad-thai noodles, and Korean BBQ to name a few… As you might assume, I eat out a lot, only because I don’t have a wood-oven in my kitchen…

I feel like the “Aussie” diet is evolving, and practically everyone can use a pair of chopsticks as well as they can cut up a chicken parma at the local pub. It made me think that some of these classic Australian dishes are left behind in the yesteryear of our childhood, and only brought out once a year on holidays like Australia Day. I’m reminded of this every time I read some retrospective Buzzfeed article on Australian culture which makes a joke of everything that was taken so seriously in the 80s. Weirdly enough, in general, classic Australian dishes are a bit of rubbish, and not only do I prefer what I eat every other day, but I got a tummy ache last night after eating junk all afternoon. It’s like I’m a kid at a birthday party all over again. I feel like I’ve become accustomed to telling my foreign friends that “You need to grow up eating it to appreciate it. Like Vegemite.”

Of course, reflecting on Australia Day brings to mind all sorts of confusing feelings. I would say more so in recent years, Aussies are reminded of what Australia’s colonisation meant for the poor indigenous people of the land. So you feel almost awful celebrating Australia Day on some level anyway.

And yet, for many people, particularly migrants, Australia Day is about coming to a new land with endless possibilities for the future. Ironically, the 26 January celebrates the anniversary of the first fleet of British, who arrived on boats… I’m sure the Aboriginal people had wished they had some kind of “No Boat People” policy back then…. especially since most of the English were criminals and convicts in some way or another…

So essentially, I wonder, What does Australia Day mean now anyway? To me, it’s a practice of looking back at history passed, and wondering what the children of the future will feel – perhaps they too will get tummy aches eating too much junk food that their parents told them they’d appreciate if they grew up eating it…

Note to my friend Courtney: Your pool party was superbly catered! What kind of party would it be anyway if the kids don’t get sick from eating too much candy?

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