Words by Elizabeth Narwastu Art by Rebekah Rose
Never in my life did I think that coffee and avocados would be symbols of higher social status. That is until I moved to Melbourne. Here I am still pondering about how millennials will never afford a house because they eat smashed avo for breakfast. We all say that Melbourne is a hip and artistic city, but most of the time it makes me feel like an uncultured swine. As an International student hailing from Indonesia, I have experienced many forms of culture shock since I moved here. So, I made a list of things I find snobby about the city of Melbourne.
Avocado on everything
Avocados on sale are still $2.50 each. As a show respect, it is spread or smashed onto everything. You can have smashed avocado on toast, avocado in your burger and avocado in your prawn sushi roll. The weirdest combination I’ve encountered is smashed avo and Vegemite toast. Do avocados represent wealth? How did it become a cultural phenomenon in Melbourne?
With the rise of health awareness and wellness influencers on social media, eating healthy is becoming a priority for many. Avocados feed into this by providing healthy fats with just 80 calories. Almost every cafe and restaurant incorporates avocado into their menu. Call it a conspiracy but I think it’s just a marketing technique. Don’t get me wrong, they taste great, but just how great can this abnormally shaped fruit taste?
The first time I ever ordered coffee in a cafe other than Starbucks, I’m sure I embarrassed myself. I asked, “hey, can I just get a small coffee?” The barista looked at me, confused, then said, “but what type of coffee would you like?”
The embarrassment motivated me to learn more about coffee. I made a mental note that if I want to understand this culture, then I have to pretend that frothy milk is a primary need. Despite coming from a country that produces most of the world’s coffee beans, drinking coffee is not a ritual like it is in Melbourne. All coffee tastes the same to me, but most native Melburnians can taste if the beans were roasted or pressed or what country they were grown in. I may know how to order a coffee now, but I still don’t understand all the fuss over a flat white.
Refusing to go anywhere without timber furniture and tropical plants
Timber furniture, copper fixings, and tropical plants do look nice, I must admit. But it does get annoying when you try to find a place that is budget friendly with good food, good coffee and is decorated to fit your friend’s Instagram feed. I used to love brunch before aesthetics drove the prices beyond my budget.
It’s too much pressure to go out on a Saturday night. There, I said it. I was forced to wear heels to go to a two star reviewed club filled with obnoxious people for a friend’s birthday party. Not to mention they play the same music every single night.
The population of Melbourne has blown up. Some suburbs have already been transformed to accommodate the wealthier socioeconomic class, like St Kilda, Fitzroy and Richmond. You know you’ve been gentrified when hipster cafes and shops open for business and real estate prices go up. These new higher prices of living mean long-time residents are forced to move to the outer suburbs to be able to afford a place to live. Those people take with them unique aspects of culture and diversity. The thing I love about Melbourne is that it has so much culture from all around the world, and it would be a shame if it was all lost to gentrification.