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Australian Grace

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"What fresh hell is this?"

Carolyn eyed the dish Arthur was holding with a poorly disguised look of revulsion. Martin had already turned a shade of green bearing strong resemblance to that of said dish. Douglas returned to a more upright position from where he had been lounging at the table, and cast a glance in Arthur's direction. After a moment of silent contemplation, a faint "golly" was uttered, before he pulled himself together and smiled brightly.

"Well well, Arthur," he said, "I see we are continuing our enlightening gastronomic journey through the chromatic spectrum."

"The what?"

"He is referring to your persistence of producing - and I use the term very broadly - food of one colour," Carolyn translated briskly.

Martin swallowed audibly, his gaze transfixed upon the dish. "I tried to forget about the orange platter for weeks afterwards. I had dreams about it."

"But Skip, you never even tried the orange platter. You said I should take it away and humanely destroy it."

"Of course I said that! I didn't mean you should go and dig it up again months later and bring it back to us!"

"Aw, come on chaps," pleaded Arthur. "I followed a recipe for this and everything!"

"A recipe produced that? What were you looking at, the Horrors of Halloween cookbook?"

"No-no not that, I mean, we don't have that cookbook, or at least I don't think we do, but wow, that sounds brilliant! I wonder if it has--"

"Arthur, light of my life," Carolyn interrupted, "what recipe did you use for this godforsaken monstrosity, and what on earth possessed you to inflict it upon us?"

"Well mum, I was researching my Australian heritage--"At this a less than polite snort was heard from Douglas' general direction, "--and I found a website with all sorts of recipes for proper Aussie foods. It was brilliant! I thought I would try this one because we had pretty much all of the ingredients already, or at least quite a few, I mean, I only had to make a couple of substitutions--"

"Arthur, what recipe please," said Martin, a slightly sweaty sheen upon his brow. He still had not been able to tear his gaze away from the, the thing, that was green and lumpy and congealing on the plate somehow, and oh god what was that red stuff streaking through the green? And what on earth was that shade of green? Surely nothing intended for ingestion by humans should be that colour?

"It's a pie floater!" Arthur beamed, gesturing proudly at his creation as it sat upon the table.

Douglas arched an eyebrow at the table.

"Are we to construe from that name that this contains a pie? And that said pie is floating? In...something that makes the pie...floatable?"

"Yes! Exactly!" Arthur said with relief. "It was meant to be a meat pie in a pastry shell but we didn't have any of them and mum wouldn't let me try cooking one from scratch. But we did have an admiral's pie in the freezer, so I used that instead."

"A fish pie with mash on top but no pastry."

"Yes."

"And the...floatable part?"

"Oh, that is supposed to be pea soup. We didn't have any of that either, but I came up with a brilliant substitute. Beans are pretty much the same thing as peas you know, so I got a couple of tins of baked beans, and sort of smooshed them up with some beer and some vegemite, because you know, that makes it even more Aussie, and it was kind of like the soup was meant to be."

"But, the colour?"

"Well, turns out beans and beer and vegemite together just look kind of brown, so I thought I would add some green food colouring to make it look more pea coloured. And you know what else is a really brilliant green? Wasabi paste! So I squeezed a tube of that in there too."

Arthur's audience contemplated the dish in meditative silence.

"And the red bits?"

Martin's curiosity got the better of him, and he took a step closer to the table, leaning down momentarily for an experimental sniff. Eyes watering furiously, he retreated with more haste than dignity.

Douglas quirked an eyebrow in amusement.

"Oh that's just dead horse," said Arthur. "I heard that Rosella was Australian, but I was a bit worried they actually put, you know, birds in there. Which would be very not brilliant. So I didn't use that."

"A wise decision no doubt," agreed Douglas. "Are you feeling more in touch with your Australian side now?"

"Oh yeah, mate, abso-lucken-footely" drawled Arthur in his best - that is to say hideously mangled - Australian accent.

"In that case we would not want to deprive you of a single mouthful of your fine creation," Carolyn said, turning smartly and heading for the door. "After all, we are not Australian."

"Indeed we are not," said Douglas smugly. "I'm afraid our un-Australian tastebuds just couldn't do justice to such a spectacular dish as this".

He too vanished out the door without a backward glance.

"Skip?"

"Um, yes Arthur?"

There may have been a slight waver in Martin's voice, not to mention a certain squeakiness.

"Did you want some? I've got two spoons here."

"Oh, er, um, you know I'd love to try some, but er, um I've just very recently found out I've got an allergy to wasabi, and, and, and I wouldn't want to risk anaphylaxis or anything like that, especially when we have to fly tomorrow." Martin edged closer to the doorway, metaphorically clutching the excuse as a drowning man clutches at a straw.

"Oh, ok Skip." Arthur did his best to not look too disappointed, but his whole demeanor drooped perceptibly.

"Sorry Arthur, maybe another time?"

"No wucken furries, Skip," Arthur twanged at Martin's retreating figure, ripping off a quite impressive salute that unfortunately went unseen.

He turned back to the table, where the pie floater lurked in its dish in a green and lumpy fashion, and took a seat, bowing his head.

"Strewth mate! Fair dinkum! Ken Oath! She'll be right!" Australian grace satisfactorily completed, Arthur dug in.