See you! …round, like a rissole

After a week off, we’re back. It’s getting busy around here recently. Maybe it’s the same everywhere at this time of year?

Disclaimer: despite the title, this is not a last post. I just wanted to write about rissoles and this phrase came to mind. The thing is that in Australia, people don’t stop after ‘see you.’ The phrase ‘see you’ just as it is is one I have only heard habitually used by second-language speakers of English from Asian countries, and also English teachers who have worked in said countries. And when I say ‘said’ I mean actually with both of the words said, especially the ‘you.’ It really bothered me the first year I worked in Japan. Nobody said ‘see you later’ or ‘see you next week’ or ‘see ya’ – only ‘see youuuu’ and it usually sounds more like ‘she youuuuu.’ And it’s seen as being authentic English, not like ‘bye-bye’ which as you know is actually Japanese.

australian-rissoles-1

Rissoles. There should definitely be some mashed spuds on this plate too. Pic: 196 flavours (my spelling)

So, ‘see you’ rant aside, there is this markedly Australian way of saying see you later, which is: see you round like a rissole. I didn’t know it was Australian until, oh, probably when I came to Japan and said it to a non-Australian. Not sure if it was a Brit or an American or Canadian, but apparently in the UK, ‘rissole’ means something similar to what it means in Australia. Wiki reckons that a rissole is a pastry that can be sweet or savoury in France, which is where the term originated, but in Australia, it means a meat patty that you cook on the barbie (BBQ). Some people might make a distinction between rissole and meat patty, saying for example that a rissole has breadcrumbs in it and might have vegies (onion, grated carrot) whereas a meat patty for a hamburger will just be mince and seasoning. Whatever, I’m not an expert. This is kind of the point: who cares about rissoles? Putting the word in italics just now felt wrong, too sophisticated. Rissoles always seemed to me like the most boring food ever, that shouldn’t bother existing unless they got themselves made into a hamburger, at which point, the more other ingredients, the better.

But Japan doesn’t share my disdain for the rissole. In fact, to my dismay, there is a common misconception that all foreigners eat rissoles/meat patties/hamburger steaks, whatever you want to call them, on a regular basis. People sometimes try to feed them to me when they see that I’m a white person and therefore assume I won’t be able to eat Japanese food. Now for many non-Japanese people this may well be true, but I just don’t get the appeal of rissoles.

Hamburger steak on the menu at chain restaurant Bikkuri Donkey

Yum? Hamburger steak on the menu at chain restaurant Bikkuri Donkey. Pic: Bikkuri Donkey

In Japan they’re known as ハンバーグ hambāgu, which translates to ‘hamburger steak’ or ‘Salisbury steak‘ (i.e. a meat patty) as distinct from ハンバーガー hambāgā which is a hamburger. They are the main dish at a chain eatery called Bikkuri Donkey and one of the main menu items at family restaurant chains Gusto and Coco’s. And in that reality TV show I was watching, Terrace House, when people cook for each other, until a cook comes on the show, it usually seems to be hamburger steaks. Why? I really don’t know.

A sought-after quality in any hamburger steak in Japan, whether it is part of a hamburger or served on its own, is softness. So having a kind of crust and being hard on the outside is seen as a failing. This, too, I fail to understand. If you’re going to have a rissole, it should be at least a little bit burnt on the outside. I guess it’s just my cultural background.

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The om-burg. There’s a meat patty under there. Image from here.

Hamburger steaks in Japan are often served with a sauce that’s called demi-glace, which can improve them nearly to the point of being pleasant. Nah, they can be quite nice with a good demi-glace sauce. I wasn’t familiar with this sauce until Japan, but it features quite a bit on a drama I watched where the secret weapon of a particular restaurant and their trademark ‘om-burg’ (a hamburger steak in an omelette) was their demi-glace sauce, the recipe for which was passed down from father to son.

What’s your image of rissoles, or hamburger patties? Better than mine? Should they be soft? Should they be burnt? Should they be at all? And while we’re at it with the questions, do you say ‘see you?’ Or do you say ‘see ya’ or ‘see you later’ or ‘see you round (like a rissole)’ or something else?

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