Is this really a blog about Melbourne food? You may very well be wondering this as I write about eating in Perth, tasting in Tasmania and now drowning (in sweat) in Darwin. Darwin may not be quite so disgusting right now (weather wise), but back in February when I penned this post it was.
It is true, I have not had much time in Melbourne this year and this particular humid Saturday morning I found myself at the Parap Markets in Darwin. The top-end capital is known for being an Australian frontier from which South East Asia beckons. Furthermore, it is a melting pot of local cultures and of those that seep in from the north. Nowhere is this more evident that at Parap markets. Wander past the paintings from Arnhem Land and the over-priced pendents and the markets open out into tropical fruit heaven. Dragon fruit, paw paw, passionfruit and monkey bananas all compete for space while stall-holders slice up pineapple into snack size pieces.
I had not had a latte for four days, so I was naturally drawn to Just Coffee. Glance over the many blends of beans lining the counter while you wait for your fix. And fix it did… for about 5 minutes. The coffee was strong and bold however after only a few sips I realised this was a bad idea. As I sweated like someone who’d eaten too many chillies I decided that the varied fruit smoothies on offer would have been a smarter option. We live and learn.
After buying Morrocan Cous Cous, Pumpkin Ravioli and Beetroot and Feta salads to take home for lunch, I turned my attention back to the Asian influences. Gado Gado from Jakarta was sold alongside Thai Sweets and the steaming hawker food was a tempting mid-morning snack, despite the heat. As is standard for many of these markets in Australia all of the offerings were fried with nothing steamed in sight. Disappointingly the money bags, chicken satay and beef spring roles reminded me that all too often markets like this smell better than they taste. Nevertheless, the oppressive humidity, the vapours of wok-tossed meat and tropical fruit made me feel just for a second that I really was in a hybrid country of Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, so close yet so far from Australia.