Hangover food. The food you have when you’ve had a heavy night on heavy drinks. The food you have when you want something inherently evil to ingest. Sheer dunderheaded stupidity. It could be any one of these motivations that would lead you to head out to North Adelaide and consume one of these monstrosities.
I am referring to the AB.
The initials of this particular dish are quite unsanitary and hardly appetising, however when you sum up the ingredients; kebab/yiros meat on top of a bed of chips/fries, drizzled with garlic, tomato and chilli sauces, you have a beast of a dish that simply screams its vulgarity from the rooftops.
A taste of Adelaide: The AB (right) with the FUIC (left), another icon from Adelaide
The locals would have you believe that the AB is a dish forged from culinary geniuses masquerading as drunken university students, but it’s difficult to pinpoint its origins within this city. Two cafés that are quite literally a stone’s throw from each other (Blue &White Café and the North Adelaide Burger Bar) both claim to have birthed (ahem) the original AB and their doors seem to constantly attract lingering revellers seeking to sate that drunken appetite.
Blue & White Café (left), the North Adelaide Burger Bar (right)
One shop used to display the AB’s own wikipedia entry, but it seems to have been deleted by the Wikigods.
The AB assaults you from the first moment you see it. There’s no pretense here. It’s bold, garish, ugly, gaudy and no matter how artfully the sauce is drizzled over the meat and fried potatoes, it still has the aesthetic appeal of a giant bowl of hastily mixed cobblestones and glue. The aroma of garlic graces your nostrils with the loving tenderness of a swung cricket bat.
The AB up close, with barbeque and chilli sauce – there’s no other way, really!
These opening paragraphs don’t seem to paint a complimentary picture of the AB, when to actually eat one of these is probably an experience that’ll be remembered. My experience with the AB has usually contained three stages:
Stage 1: The High
I dig around the plate with the supplied plastic fork and skewer myself a portion that contains a good amount of meat and chip. Upon placing the portion in my mouth, the food seems to explode inside. It gets everywhere. I can feel the garlic tingle around the insides of my cheeks, on the roof of my mouth and into my sinuses. Dear Lord this food is strong, the flavour is harsh and by God it’s fantastic.
Stage 2: Perseverance
This AB is bigger than I thought, and that aroma and taste that I so loved is starting to transition to the point where it’s difficult to chew without feeling like I’m trying to bite into a bike tyre. Garlic and chilli has seeped into every portion of my upper digestive tract and has set up camp there. A sensation similar to reflux has started in my chest, but I don’t care… it still has the flavour I like.
Stage 3: The AB bites back
Every word I utter causes my friends to physically recoil from me and people who are out walking their dog stop abruptly as their pet stops at my table, taking exaggerated notice of me. The plate is mostly consumed, and my fork is idly searching out the tinier, more garlic coated examples of potato. Despite my stomach protesting, my friends goad me on, telling me to finish my meal like strict matriarchs. I secretly wonder if there are stink lines emanating visibly from my person.
Once the AB is consumed, I lean back in my seat, feeling rather guilty. I’m drunk, not on alcohol or some other comparatively innocent substance, but from the fumes created by the chemistry happening in my stomach. Everything has gathered into one mighty smoosh in my belly and is happily churning away like an expertly prepared simmering sauce. Everything feels hot, and it’s not just from the sweet chilli sauce. The fizzing cycle happening in my system feels like the sort of energy that could be harnessed to fuel a small vehicle, but I fear it would generate more harmful emissions than a conventional combustion engine.
I could almost see the paint peel from the walls of my home when I returned.
The AB isn’t so much as a food or meal as it is an adventure into a realm where outrageous is the norm and drunken Adelaideans are the populace. It’s arguably the finest food you could find on a boozy night out, where the effects of the strong sauces and meats are dulled by alcohol and the high of the occasion.
Fine dining, this isn’t. The AB will grab you, shake you, and will not let go.
Blue & White Café
43 O’Connell Street
North Adelaide, Australia
North Adelaide Burger Bar
51 O’Connell Street
North Adelaide, Australia
Photographs courtesy and copyright of Andy – All rights reserved.
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