Feel like moving abroad but are unsure how you’re going to integrate into the community? Want the newness of an exotic place without the awkward moments while trying to fit in? Well, just live vicariously through us until you make the plunge! Here are the (first of many) mildly embarrassing things that have happened to me in the last couple of weeks. Learn from us.
1) I set out to make a lasagne. Simple, right? We had all this silverbeet (like kale but not quite as hard to cook down) and my intention was to sautee it down and then make a silverbeet and mushroom lasagne. They even had the no-boil noodles and I found the conversion chart for farenheit-celcius conversion in our Ellie Krieger cookbook. I was set, right?
We’re still familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the two main grocery stores and the products. But I thought it was fortuitous when I walked into the Pak N Sav and right in front of the entrance was a big display of Wattie’s brand Tomato Sauce on sale. (Wattie’s is apparently a New Zealand institution, perhaps like Campbell’s, so I figured it was a safe bet.) So I grabbed a can and proceeded to continue with the shopping. Surely Kiwis, at this point of the story, can imagine where this story is headed.
Fast forward to later that evening. I pulled it out of the oven and proceeded to put a serving on plates for the four of us. I licked a finger and was perplexed. It tasted weird. Really sweet. How did this happen? I’d seasoned liberally with oregano, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. I was pretty deft at making a lasagne. It’s Sean’s favorite childhood meal after all. Where did I go so terribly, terribly wrong? We were all famished and so I proceeded setting the table. We all hungrily dug in, and we were all repulsed. Is this how Kiwis ate their lasagne? If so, what on earth is wrong with them? It was terrible! Sickly sweet. Without anything else ready to eat, Sean and I choked it down, but the kids got bowls of cereal instead.
It wasn’t until a few days later that I was hanging out with Bethan, one of our new friends, when I asked her what she uses to make lasagne, and in general, where you find marinara sauce? What about cans of plain tomato sauce for making a lasagne base. I told her that I’d used tomato sauce with a terrible result. And as the words were coming out of her mouth, I remembered: in New Zealand, what they call tomato sauce, we call ketchup. And apparently you buy it by the can. That’s right people. I made a lasagne with a whole 14.5 oz can of ketchup. And can you believe that my sweet and polite and starving husband (I was just starving) ate it?!? Good times…
and there’s this one (it’s much shorter)
2) The kids have made a new friend, M. She’s been very sporting in getting to know our kids and having playdates with them. She’s a bright little girl, but also very blunt. The kids were sitting on a bench, eating through the $10 of strawberries that I’d just bought at the farmer’s market. I wasn’t really paying attention to their conversation; M’s dad and I were chatting a bit. Then M gets my attention and says in her great, little accent, “Sarah, do they say ‘please’ in America?” “They sure do,” I said. “Then how come Auric doesn’t say ‘please’?” I stifled my laugh. “Well, he’s still learning how to be polite. And so we have to remind him periodically.” Cringe.
There will surely be many more of these to come. So stay tuned!