Lunch is a Journey in St Kilda

It’s a new Winter, a new Covid strain, a new pie shape. Seemingly hidden on the wind swept, litter strewn Fitzroy Street – empty but for a homeless, toothless woman who is camped beween the two deserted kebab joints and is haranguing myself and the only other souls brave enough to walk by, being a stream of young-ish women in buttocks-tortioning “active wear” who power past on a portion of their permitted 2-hour daily exercise in Lockdown – is the promise of renewal. Which brings us back to the meat pie. Meat and bacon, to be pedantic, from the enduring “Aussie-French (Chinese/Filipino/Cambodian) Bakery”. The pies have a new shape and a new pastry crust (and new ingredients, I’m sure). It’s good! Out with the old quadrilateral shape – it’d become a bit square anyway – and in with a traditional oblong shape, reminiscent of the meat pies of old. See the (delicious) irony? Old is new. Again.

I like this new pie. This thinner crust facilitates access to the contents; you can easily get to the business end of proceedings. I also rescued two hash browns, which looked forlorn and abandoned, alone in the bakery’s lukewarm bain marie. Now, I take my hash browns seriously. I have breakfasted on hash browns and black pudding in almost every county of Ireland, both Northern and Republic. I’ve enjoyed – sometimes endured – hash browns from Buenos Aires to Bangkok to Brisbane to Beijing. (Disclosure: in Beijing they were the Japanese croquette, called “korokke”, being mashed potato with peas and corn, crumbed and fried. Delicious with soy sauce.) Korokke these are not. These are more your common Macca breakfast variety hash browns. They have been fried in a peculiar blend of oils, perhaps an emulsion amalgem combining both the 20th and 21st Centuries of the bakery’s history. I don’t know, I’m just postulating, because I find the exact source of that oil taste to be elusive and mysterious.

But wouldn’t life be boring, without hash browns, meat pies and little mysteries?