The 1950s saw Australia’s Italian Renaissance which now leaves its traces in the tourist traps of Lygon St. Well they’re not too bad, but if you wanted to go to a good Italian Restaurant you’d have to know what you were doing to get a really good one in Lygon St. But things have been changing. With the slow, grinding, ongoing depression European bureaucrats have cooked up for their populations there’s a steady flow of migrants from the worst hit ‘periphery’ countries.
And the owner of the DOC chain of restaurants is sponsoring them out and giving them work in his three restaurants – one on Lygon St, one on Faraday around the corner and one at Mornington (where the vegetable lasagne is to die for.) The most popular is the Faraday St Pizza joint (which – very rarely for Australia – has queues outside it), but our favourite is the Carlton Espresso on the Eastern side of Lygon between Faraday and Grattan. There wonderful waiters and waitresses who I presume are here on ‘backpackers’ visas, treat you to fabulous Italian hospitality and completely fabulous food. The papardelle porcini mushroom is fantastic, as are waiters Ameliano, Andrea, Leon, Martina and any number of others. Most of the waiters are men. And a preponderance of the diners are women. Then again one of the waiters is called Eros, so I guess it’s not that hard to guess what some of the drivers are.
In any event lots of these people are here and trying to get into Australia. They’re all incredibly nice people and being italians lots of them are very well trained. One of them (a really nice person – like them all really – in her mid-twenties from Tuscany) – has a degree in economics and engineering is doing research assistance for Lateral Economics! It seems to me, while we scour developing countries to snaffle their resources of skilled labour to enable us to maintain the shitty wages we pay teachers, nurses and such like, we should be over in Europe with our shingle out on the street trying to get some more great migrants from Europe.
Anyway, I thought I might do an op ed on this. And here is my bleg – and why this post is here. Since my column is published in both the Age and the SMH, can someone point me to some similar phenomena in Sydney (it would even be good with a different ethnicity).