Sausages in Australia
I’m new in town. I live in a flat the size of a large wardrobe, on top of a little bakery, round the corner from where the harbor meets the sea; a place so stunningly beautiful, people go there to throw themselves off the cliffs.
I live down the road from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his large, Tuscan pink, waterside mansion. I know this, because his face is tied to all the lamp posts.
By all accounts, it’s been a deeply unimpressive election season, a seemingly endless infomercial selling Tupperware tubs of mediocrity. Amid the haze of middling banality, I’ve found one, perhaps, redeeming feature: crowdsourced maps of sausages.
Election day sausage sizzles are prolific, secretly competitive, and don’t always involve sausages, but some genius has mapped them all, GPS coordinates and color-coded vegetarian icons and all.
In celebration of democracy and processed meat, I choose two polling stations on opposite ends of the spectrum for breakfast.
The voting booths at Bondi Primary School are in one of the richest constituencies, in one of the richest cities, in one of the richest countries in the world. Here, my soy latte is produced by two baristas, a single-origin blend, I’m told.
“Chef Carlos made the blueberry friands,” one tells me. “They’re so delicious.”
Behind the sausage stand, an ibis has discovered the baby baguettes. It’s shooed away, the top tray of bread chucked in the bin.
“We’re one of the sausage sizzles of note,” Steve jokes over the ordering table. “There’s a chance Turnbull himself could show up.”
The upended plastic crate seats are topped with screen-printed calico cushions in industrial-meets-shabby-chic. Around me, the accents are British, American, Irish. Beneath the handwritten menu, you can buy copies of the glossy hardback school cookbook, “A Year in the Kitchen Garden.”
Steve is promoting the #BrEGGsit bun. I choose to have it all. Here, that means rocket and chilli jam with my bacon, organic egg, and gluten-free-hormone-free-ethically-raised-sausage. The chilli jam is made by the children, with ingredients from the school kitchen garden. Naturally.
“I haven’t made up my mind who to vote for,” Steve says. “And in Australia, the leader never stays the leader.”
I pull a muscle in my jaw trying to fit the first bite in my mouth. The happy cow sausage is juicy and the egg dribbles down my chin. Kids, if you’re reading this, the jam wasn’t spicy enough.
Behind me, eight-year-old Isabel has already sold out of all her pastry creations, so she’s backing Ava’s orange Anzac cookies instead. On the bake sale table, amidst Cocopop crackles and Oreo cupcakes, there are palmiers. I eat one in honor of the ambition.
The acoustic guitar quartet has been replaced by a pre-teen Daniel, playing the national anthem on a poorly tuned violin. It’s all very earnest indeed. And even in this right-of-centre Liberal outpost—the PM’s constituency, no less—there’s a flavor of Leftist rebellion.
“If Trump were here, we’d add a bit of arsenic,” I overhear.
Inland, at Erskineville Primary School, the candidate for the Greens has blue hair.
“That might make some people around here take her more seriously,” says my mate, Matt.
There are dogs, lots of dogs, and barefoot bunny-onesie-wearing children with scooters dancing on the tarmac. An enthusiastic fairy is climbing on top of a faux-cement sea monster.
There are people in varying shades of brown and yellow. Many are wearing black. Even more have brushed beards and unbrushed hair.
There is homemade lemonade, and a food stylist parent has created boxes of chocolate “bark” with sea salt and rosemary. From the school kitchen garden. Naturally.
“Oh, this is a Labour seat through and through,” Mel and Martine shrug, across the grill, Stella Artois stubbies in hand. “Tanya Plibersek [the deputy Labour leader] was going to come.”
There are sausages, but there is also slow-cooked lamb. Shoulders—30 kilograms of them—have been in the oven for over four hours, rubbed with Greek oregano. “Just like marijuana!” someone pipes up. The tzatziki, a celebration of raw garlic, is made by the dad who runs the souvlaki stand.
“We did lamb because pulled pork is too passé,” Mel explains. “We did the pork last year, and we had the highest number of people voting out of district coming here to eat it.”
The lines are growing. The waft of grilling halloumi is intoxicating. There are a lot of undecideds in the queue.
Hungover DJ Mark is tossing sausages.
“Cooked to perfection,” he grins. “You want to give them a slight char, overcook them a little. After all, you never know what’s in them.”