This trip has been a real eye-opener for me: I’m a moron. What I thought was soggy travel brain is clearly something deeper. I fear I have developed a serious case of Crohn’s Brain.
Anyone with a chronic illness knows what I’m talking about, and even those of you with one of those lingering flus that leave you feeling 100 I.Q. points short knows precisely what I’m talking about. There’s only so much energy the body can devote to one thing, and the first part of the body to get the pink slip is the higher brain function. Oh sure, we keep the automatic breathing and the heart beating and a little bit of the fight or flight, but the navigation and the remembering how to use the TV remote skills? Total loss. It’s rather humbling to realize how short of a full scoop of chips1 one is, and I’m repeatedly made thankful that I have Mike with me and that we can stay at a friends house. It makes things much, much easier.
But let’s talk about better things. First, a breakfast of creamed mushrooms over toast. Its rather a thing here, the mushrooms over toast, and I found it to be an ideal breakfast. Not too heavy but still substantial. This one claimed to be in a port wine reduction cream sauce, but all I tasted was cream. It was exactly as though one had made a thick gravy of cream of mushroom soup (imagine!) and then served it over sauteed mushrooms and thick slices of chewy bread. In fact, it’s not “as though” at all, it is is.
We stopped by a bulk grocer and I renewed my appreciation for the lewd catcall “NICE BISCUITS!” which of course Mike then endured for the remainder of the day. As an aside, there was a kind of Arnott’s biscuit I was addicted to about five years ago, from their Snack Right line. You can still get the sultana (raisin) version, but they used to make a tropical flavor with dried passionfruit and I believe mango in it and I must have eaten a dozen packs back in the day. No such danger now, as they appear to have discontinued them. I’ll have to make do with several pounds of the world’s best Cadbury chocolate instead.
But at least I can get De Winkel yogurt. Again, five years ago there was a passionfruit and feijoa flavor that I must have eaten gallons of, but it doesn’t seem to be an available flavor anymore. Still, rhubarb! I love rhubarb and it’s thrilling to be in a country that likes it almost as much as me. New Zealand yogurt tends to be less sweet than US yogurt, which is a tremendous improvement if you ask me, and it is as popular as a topping for pastry as whipping cream is. Our host, Marika, passionately extolled the singular delights of having a slice of lemon cake with a hearty scoop of rich, unflavored yogurt on the side and I almost fainted.
This sweet fellow here makes me happy, and not just because it looks like Mr. Burns when he was an alien. The real reason is because they are still called Eskimos. Earlier this year, an Inuit visiting New Zealand was offended and complained to the parent company, Pascall. My first reaction was, thank god this happens in other countries. My second reaction was, well yeah, I think it might be time to rename them. When a native peoples come forward and says, “Hi, your name for us? Is not our name for us,” is the point where you have to go, “Okay, sorry.” And my final reaction is, maybe everyone should just let it go. I strongly feel that the longer you allow words to have power, the longer you’re allowing them to hurt (or help) you. The Inuit may not have forgotten the insult of being called Eskimo, but the practical matter is that the rest of us have. In New Zealand you have a whole nation of people to whom asking “Fancy an Eskimo?” will result in them holding out their hand for a piece of candy. It’s not a happy medium, but it’s a medium, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.
1Little bit of Kiwiana for you there. Chips are, of course, french fries and in real chip shops you get either a whole or a half scoop (and lots of places won’t serve a half scoop) serving.September 29th, 2009 | Eatin' Fancy, New Zealand