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Radical Class: Some Weekend Reading A book about Australia (it’s that time again!) from an author we can’t get enough of

“Australia is mostly empty and a long way away. Its population is small and its role in the world consequently peripheral. It doesn’t have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities, or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner. It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn’t need watching, and so we don’t. But I will tell you this: the loss is entirely ours.”–Bill Bryson, In A Sunburned Country

When I was eighteen, my English godmother invited me to a cricket match. It was her birthday and my family was visiting her in London. Being American, my family had neither seen a match before nor had we bothered ourselves with even learning the rules. My plan was to stumble in, hang the sense of it all, and keep myself occupied while pilfering gin and tonics from mum and pops.

At the match there were cricket players wearing pads, cricket fans wearing three-piece suits, and a general air of snootiness and discontent. I discovered later that the last part is just characteristic of England in general. Everyone had a blast — everyone, that is, but me. I hated every second of being of that match. Too long. Too slow. Dreadfully boring. And when I was finally allowed to leave, changing back into my regular teenager clothes to go off to the pub felt weird and elitist.

Thankfully I’m not the only person to have these sorts of thoughts. Bill Bryson agrees with me. Bill’s an American who made the move to the United Kingdom after graduating from university. He’s also a writer I’ve taken the liberty of mentioning now several times on this site. And I’m going to talk about him here again. Sorry, these are just the things that happen when you have a favorite author.

“It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect. …It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as the players more if they are moderately restless.” –In A Sunburned Country

Alright, so aside from being a writer, Bill’s also an extensive traveler and he’s a keen observer of cultural absurdities and an outspoken criticism of the game of cricket — which is probably why I love him so much. And his book, In A Sunburned Country, covers all these bases.

“I don’t wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game,” Bryson writes. “It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as player — more if they are moderately restless. It is the only competitive activity of any type, other than perhaps baking, in which you can dress in white from head to toe and be as clean at the end of the day as you were at the beginning.”

Now, In A Sunburned Country isn’t exclusively about bashing the United Kingdom’s stick-and-ball nonsense. That’s just a connection I’ll always make with it. In fact, it doesn’t even take place in the Queen’s Country. Rather, it’s set in England’s estranged cousin’s place: Australia.

“Australians are very unfair in this way. They spend half of any conversation insisting that the country’s dangers are vastly overrated and that there’s nothing to worry about, and the other half telling you how six months ago their Uncle Bob was driving to Mudgee when a tiger snake slid out from under the dashboard and bit him on the groin, but that it’s okay now because he’s off the life support machine and they’ve discovered he can communicate with eye blinks.”–In A Sunburned Country

Bryson’s spent a significant amount of his life bouncing around the globe, recording his travels, and he can’t say enough good things about what he’s coined the “Sunburned Country.” The people are likable. The cities are clean are nearly always built on water. It has a society that is prosperous, well ordered and isn’t reluctant to enjoy a cold beer — or five. He even believes Australians would fix cricket’s shortcomings if given the chance. “I’m quite certain that if the rest of the world vanished overnight and the development of cricket were left in Australian hands,” he writes. “Within a generation, the players would be wearing shorts and using bats to hit each other, and the thing is, it’d be a much better game for it.”

It’s a lighter read but it’s fucking brilliant. Bryson’s language is hilarious in a tongue-in-cheek, snarky, sort of way and his ability to communicate even the most complex situations with ease is second to none. In A Sunburned Coutnry by Bill Bryson. It’s an older book so you can still find even hardcovers for cheap. It’s 394 pages. You can handle it. Read it on your flight over to Brisbane for the Quiky Pro. Read it as you sit at home this weekend and think about how you wish you could go to the Quiky Pro. Read it if you hate everything about the Quiky Pro but just want to find out more about Australia. Either way, expand your mind.–James Royce

You can get your hands on it here.


WHAT YOUTH EATS: AGUACHILE Another Raw One: Sinaloa Spicy Shrimp

If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve gone raw at for the last few weeks. We’ve played with raw tuna a couple different ways (here and here), and got fancy and fresh with a raw beef tartare last week. It’s been fun, delicious, and the whole experiment has opened up our late…

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WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW BEEF The latest in our Raw Series: Steak tartare is the primest of the prime.

For the last few weeks we’ve gone raw. We’re doing it all for the flavor — an exercise to experience great ingredients at their root essence, with a secondary win of less time cooking and more time having summertime fun outside (making raw things takes less time, duh). So far we’ve focused on fish and…

Tuna Don, Adam Warren, What Youth Eats

WY EATS: Spicy Tuna Don Another hit from our RAW series — best washed down with ice cold Kirin

Its time to expand on our RAW capabilities here. And just like the Mediterranean version of the albacore crudo that you’ve already mastered, we are leaning on our Japanese influence of raw efficiencies for our next dish: The Spicy Tuna Don. “Don” is short for “donburi” which is a traditional Japanese dish where any number…

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WY Guide: The Bartender Getting a drink in a crowded bar is an art. Here’s your paint set.

As Shane Dorian famously said in Loose Change: “What’s your poison man?” That ageless, sometimes slightly altered greeting has been heard by bar patrons since the first bar opened circa 900 AD. And after 1100 years of human interaction at these establishments one would hope there would be some orderly and respectful manner one might…

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW The first in a Series: Albacore Crudo

For the next couple of weeks, I’m going raw. This isn’t some nonsense trendy food fad out of Beverly Hills: this is all about efficiency and simplicity. Efficiency because eating raw means less time in the kitchen and more time outside shredding through summer. Simplicity because I won’t have to develop complex sauces and spend…

what youth dead writers shirt

The WY Dead Writers T-Shirt Before it’s gone here’s why it exists

We still read…actual books even. And while a lot of our favorite writers are long gone, their influence is still smothering us. They’ve left us with piles and piles of great reading, insight, fucked up situations, and maniacal living to read about. This shirt is an ode to them. Here’s a run through who they…

what youth drinks tequila

What Youth Drinks: The Paloma Cuz it’s just so damn hot outside

It’s officially summer now. And since we’ve already taught you how to order a margarita the right way here, now it’s time to learn how to make the G of all tequila cocktails best drank in the sun: The Paloma. If the margarita is the popular girl in high school that everyone knows, then the Paloma…

Radical Class, What Youth Eats

What Youth Eats: Huevos Rancheros Your weekend mornings are now better

Huevos Rancheros hold a special place down deep in my gut. Growing up, when dad wasn’t at work on weekend mornings, we’d wake up early to surf the Cliffs, then he’d take me to Georges Mexican Food right by our house in Huntington Beach for breakfast. Every time the order was the same: two orders…

What Youth, Radical Class, Paul Brewer

WHAT YOUTH EATS: WITHOUT RECIPES Try this, then go rip into it

Learning to cook and make cocktails is a funny process. We read cookbooks, we watch TV shows, maybe we try a recipe or two from For the most part, we get set up with a list of instructions, and we’re expected to follow it closely or else it will be ruined. That’s a process that’s…

what youth eats our veggies

WHAT YOUTH EATS: OUR VEGGIES Skip the Meat with Grilled Mushroom Risotto

You’re eating your veggies, right? For those of you who just need meat with your meals, may I offer mushrooms instead. Here, the mushrooms are grilled to give a deeper, nuttier flavor, and combined with creamy rich risotto. Once you get the hang of risotto, it can be a quick dinner. Until you get the hang of…

what youth memorial day

Radical Class: On Memorial Day Celebrating and Remembering in Equal Parts

These days, Memorial Day is all about burgers and beers, beach days and maybe some deeply discounted retail shopping. But, of course, it isn’t. It’s about war and the people who fought in them — namely the Civil War, where 620,000 Americans died. Where today’s Memorial Day is little more than an excuse to party…

What Youth Eats: On a Trip Bridging the disconnect between great waves and crappy food on surf trips

I haven’t been lucky enough to be on a fancy boat trip with a private chef, but I have been on plenty of surf trips where we’re in the middle of nowhere without so much as a taco stand in sight. So what to eat? Usually it’s an early question on that road between the…

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