Monday, November 30, 2009

Bread and pandas

Adelaide has been in a state of pandamonium for the past two years, ever since the zoo announced it was getting a pair of giant pandas on loan from China. Hi, I’m Red and I’m underwhelmed. I’m not quite sure where all the excitement has come from, really, because most people just seem to say, “Meh, pandas. Oh, look, is that an ingrown hair?” Nevertheless, the Traumatiser and all the tellies and radio stations have gone panda crazy. There’s been a panda countdown clock and Melbourne Street has claimed the title of Panda Central. As you do. I suppose it could be being driven by all those awful eastern suburbs mothers who make it their business to see that their children have every opportunity available. “Pandas? Why of course you’ll be first in line to see them, Veruca! Yes, I’m sure they’ll sell us Funi and she can live on our little hobby farm with your pony. We’ll all hop in the BMW and drive down to see her on the weekends.”

As far as I can see, pandas are kind of cute because they look like teddy bears, but otherwise they’re completely useless. The stupid things arrived on the weekend and have basically done nothing but chomp through bamboo shoots and apples and pee on the walls of their brand new panda palace. The rather patchy ABC show Hungry Beast did a debate on its first episode on whether pandas should be allowed to become extinct. One of the arguments was that since they were fat and had short willies, nature was conspiring against them. And fair enough, too.

Predictably enough, panda merchandise is also out of control. You can buy Wang Wang and Funi toys and T-shirts and lunchboxes and key rings and Christ only knows what else at the zoo. I think chocolate maker Haigh’s is the only one with the right idea, with their chocolate pandas. Which naturally got me to wondering what panda might taste like.

My guess is that it would be pretty fatty, but there must be ways of serving it. I reckon that anything you could do with pork or duck, you could do with panda. Smoking might work – we could make pandacetta. Barbecuing should work too, but we’re going to need a bigger barbecue oven than any of the ones they have in Chinatown. I was thinking of an eight course degustation menu, with fairly small portions. After all, there are only two fairly large ones to go around and everyone in town is going to want a bit.

Here’s what I have so far:

Pandacetta two ways: barbecued asparagus wrapped in pandacetta and sprinkled with parmesan shavings and mushroom risotto with crisp pandacetta
Wok-tossed panda fillet with bamboo shoots (for the irony value)
Panda cotta with toasted pandatone

Any suggestions to complete the menu?