Last night was "nibbles" at my neighbor Kate's house where we all got to meet her childhood pal Wendy, and taste her her wines from Australia. "Hers," as in: Wendy made them. (I think her husband helped, but still....) She's a winemaker, and they have about 100 acres (or 30 something hectares, or 130-something hectares... I got kinda lost in translation).
I was especially impressed that Wendy managed to get our tasting supply into the country, because I recently saw Bottle Shock and had the impression you could only transport two bottles at a time. (Alan Rickman shoutout to Rachel -- I consider Alan Rickman to be Rachel's property, sorta the way Sam Shepard is mine.) I had the Pinot Noir and found it precocious, but not pretentious... sporty, yet insouciant... sardonic, but not smug -- much like me. All I know is it held up very well to the plateful of wasabi tenderloin biscuits I ate.
I am trying very hard to take up drinking. I don't wanna end up face-down in a gutter or anything, but I do consider wine to be culinarily significant and if you're gonna take food seriously, you oughtta know your way around a bottle or two.
A fellow guest at the party was trying to give up smoking, and I felt bad for her, because it's my understanding that wine makes you want to smoke (so I expect I'll be taking that up around 2010). She said it was getting easier with the help of ..."Vitamin X," to which I expressed inadvertently loud incredulity. "Really? Ecstacy helps you give up sssssmoooooking?" That stopped the conversation for a few minutes til she clarified that "Vitamin X" is just Xanax, and that I'd probably learn about that when I was her age. (She didn't know I woulda ground benzodiazapenes into my childhood Cheerios if I'd been allowed, but I really did think "X" and "E" was what "the kids today" called Ecstasy.) I also felt sad cause she can't watch Mad Men while she's trying to quit smoking. Then another lady said she can't watch Entourage cause she's trying to quit smoking pot. I assumed most people had given it up cause it got so douche-y.
There were about a dozen of us girls last night. Kate and Wendy are English, but if I'm remembering correctly went to Catholic school together in Bahrain. Wendy had a scholarship to Cambridge in the Classics, but got married and had 4 kids in Holland with her husband before moving to Australia. Another lady was Swedish; another married to a Brit... and so on.
The only thing I could think of to conversationally fall back on in such a transcontinental crowd was, "What do your roosters say?"
[I got that from David Sedaris, in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim: "'What do your roosters say' is a good icebreaker, as every country has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, the rooster greets the dawn with a hearty 'kik-a-riki.' Greek roosters crow 'kiri-a-kee,' and in France they scream 'coco-rico,' which sounds like one of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label. When told that an American rooster says 'cock-a-doodle-do' my hosts look at me with disbelief and pity."]
Now, I'm not a total dumbass -- I didn't ask this completely out of context. We were talking about one of the ladies at the party who raises chickens in her backyard downtown -- which I thought was illegal (awesome, but illegal)-- and it turns out it isn't. You can raise chickens downtown, but not roosters. (Everyone else was far more up to date on the city livestock ordinances than I was, which was kind of embarrassing.) The problem is, when you order up baby chicks, you can specify hens, but inevitably, a rooster or two sneaks in. When they're babies, they look pretty gender-indeterminate (now this, I did know, having been raised on a farm and been disappointed by many a crop that grew up to lay no eggs, which was just one of many of my failed brilliant get-rich-quick childhood schemes).
So, I thought "what do your roosters say?" was a perfectly natural conversational segue... but it was initially greeted with uncomfortable silence, as if I'd asked somebody how much money they make. I didn't know it was so personal, or maybe just stupid. And I was just starting to awkwardly explain about David Sedaris, when the Swedish lady gamely stepped right in and said, "Kookly-Oooo." I think there was maybe an umlaut or something in there somewhere, but you get the idea.
She also reported their dogs say "voof, voof." How great is that?