And I Can Cook, Too

Monday, July 30, 2007

July 18, 2007

Party Like a Rock Star

It was Adelaide’s “Carnival of Concepts” week, during which time experts in all kinds of fields flock to the city for four days of seminars, debates, and “talking withs.” Food topics included “Survival of the Fittest, Richest, or Thinnest,” “Before You Eat,” “Why We Eat What We Eat,” “Going for Growth – Fuel for Obesity,” and the ever inspiring “After the Binge, the Apocalypse.” Featured in these talks was a notable food scholar, whom I’ll just call “Shenene” on account of how she’s the head of a certain degree program that is the only one of it’s kind.

The day after the carnival our class was privileged to have a private tutorial with Shenene. Or so we thought. Seemingly friendly and well humored in front of an audience, up close and personal Shenene was a bitch. After talking up herself and her program, she opened the floor for questions. Not a single student was able to get one in without interruption. Luanne started. “We all know that obesity is a huge problem, and I wonder if you feel that the research…” “What do you mean research?” Shenene demanded, “You’ll have to be more clear. Research can mean anything, I don’t understand you. The students in my program express themselves clearly.” Three or four such instances later and Q&A time was over. Shenene then asked us to offer up our dissertation topics. Jennifer went first – her topic was the history of Girl Scout cookies and their cultural impact in America. Shenene’s response: “Girl Scout cookies are disgusting.” Oddly, no one else's topic was declared. The tutorial ended with Shenene informing us that our degrees were essentially useless, her graduates were getting excellent work, but that we needn’t bother applying because the program was a) too competitive, b) too expensive, and c) too good for us.

Naturally we were thrilled to learn that Shenene would be joining us on that afternoon’s field trip.

The Mclaren Vale Cheese and Wine Trail is a lovely way to enjoy some delightful pairings of regional products. You pick up a hamper from Blessed Cheese, and spend the afternoon tooling around with valley, stopping pre-determined wineries for your tasting. After announcing that she had no idea she was expected on this trip and that she didn’t approve of alcohol, Shenene boarded the bus. Our first stop was Shingleback, and Brie with an un-wooded Chardonnay. Disaster – should have been a Sauvignon Blanc. (I know, I hate Chardonnay, but everyone agreed with me.) Shenene, however, started to lighten up. Although she also didn’t like the pairing, she voiced appreciation for the beautiful environment. Second stop, Primiwirra and a Shiraz Rose with marinated feta. Again, not the best pairing, but Shenene was now waxing poetic about the loveliness of the trail concept. Third stop, Hoffman’s and Tempanrillo with Cheddar. The pairings were getting better, and Shenene was now behind the bar inquiring as to the nature of every single bottle. Last stop, Wirra Wirra, blue cheese, and Cabernet. I preferred their Clearskin blend, but Shenene was having the time of her life. We were sitting at the table, enjoying our food, when she asked me what we were all doing after the trip. “We’re coming to your hotel and trashing your room.” I told her. She laughed so hard she started to fall off her chair. Straightening herself, she took me by the arm and stood us up. “I want to get drunk with you!” She declared. “That can be arranged.” I replied. “I should have spent my day hanging out with you instead of these other people!” she loudly continued. “Yes you should have!” I told her. “If you’re ever in (insert city here), you have to look me up!” “Be careful, I’ll show up!” I tossed back. “I want you to!” she shouted. “Well give me your card!” By this time we had drawn a crowd, and my entire class watched in amazement as the famous Shenene invited me to call her anytime.



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