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KATE: It’s time to celebrate Aussie dags

The article appeared in the Sunday Style on 24/04/16

Last year I had a moment when I realised what it means to be Australian.

We had a friend visiting from America. He’s a musician and in a new town or country every few weeks, so instead of going out for dinner we thought we’d have him over to ours for a home-cooked meal.

Jonny was rapt with the invite. He came over late afternoon, drank beers with Petie, shot hoops with the little ones and generally hung out while I finished cooking dinner.

I was making Indian; dahl with grilled tandoori chops (jar), butter chicken (packet) and rice with yoghurt and naan bread (freezer). As I placed the platters on the table I thought they looked pretty spectacular. Plus, I had sampled as I went and everything was delicious, so I was quite pleased with myself. Jonny rubbed his hands together with appreciative glee and in his musical Nashville twang said: “You know I just got back from doin’ two months in India, so I can’t wait for this!” 

A photo posted by Indian Food (@indianfoodz) on

And I kind of had a “doh!” moment. Because I’d forgotten he’d just been in the subcontinent eating AUTHENTIC INDIAN FOOD EVERY DAY AND NIGHT. If I’d remembered I probably would’ve made pasta or something instead, because suddenly the repast that had just a few moments ago seemed so impressive (especially for a Tuesday) lost its lustre and, like the worst kind of needy, I heard myself say, “I don’t know how it will stack up to that. I mean, it’s just daggy home-cooking.”

But our American guest was too busy getting stuck in, and was all mouthfuls of naan and basmati and hoovering chop bones. Finally, he had a swig of beer and said, “What does that mean, ‘daggy’?”

And this is when things got interesting. We all tried, even the children, to explain the concept of daggy and it was almost impossible. We settled on “not cool”, but that also has the overtone of “don’t kick your dog, dude, that’s not cool”, whereas daggy has a sweetness to it that is hard to convey. The following, for instance, are some of my favourite daggy things:

A CUPPA

Coffee is cool and wants you to know it, with its baristas and Italian terminology. A cup of tea is not. Sure, you can make it in a fancy pot or treat yourself to a box of lapsang souchong, but you don’t need a William Angliss hospitality course to make a cup of tea. 

Plus, it’s comforting and made for lingering over. It doesn’t speed you up; it slows you down. Tea is perfect for conversation, and crying into. Also, it goes brilliantly with toasted crumpets with honey.

PRAWN COCKTAILS

Some hipster joints are trying to reinvent this with wasabi or sriracha. There’s no need. Classic shredded lettuce. Big meaty prawns with the tail on, dangling like Dita Von Teese over the edge of an old-school champagne glass. Lemon wedge. Tomato sauce, sour cream and mayo mixed together. RSL club perfection.

A photo posted by The Big Kahuna (@tbkindia) on

SMOKED OYSTERS

Fresh oysters are cool. Smoked oysters, jammed into their little ring-pull tin, are daggy. And they’re ugly. But smudge these little grey-green molluscs onto a Salada biscuit and you have a morsel of dee-licious, daggy heaven.

CONDENSED MILK CHEESECAKE

Sure, a slice of authentic New York baked ricotta cheesecake is nice, but if you’ve never had a wedge of a fridge-set, Butternut Snap Cookie-based, lemon-toppedWoman’s Weekly classic, I pity you.

So I say eat, be merry and let your dag flag fly. To do anything less would be unAustralian.

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