There are some things that you begin to miss when you’re away from home. I remember growing up and going to the week of 4-H camp down at Camp Barnes. By the end of the week, I missed my bed and a nice long shower more than anything. That, and not being covered with bites from mosquitoes head to toe and not sleeping in a bed filled with sand.
On vacations, you would miss your pets, and your bed. Not having to sleep in the same room as your brother, or be in the back seat of the rental car and being near your sibling. Lemme tell you, those could be some long car rides.
But the things that you miss on the casual excursion, the family vacation, are nothing really like what you miss when you move so far from home that you can’t quite drive back. University saw me only 2 hours away, Maine I was only 13 hours in straight driving. I could always go back home if I missed something. Like making apple butter with mom. Or going to synagogue on friday nights.
It’s a bit different on this side of the world. I can’t just hop in my car and drive home. Not just because of being an ocean and a continent away, but also because I don’t have my car. And man, I miss my car. I miss having that freedom of (if I wanted to) getting in the car and going out for a drive. I don’t have that here. Not yet. I will work on getting wheels, but I can’t yet.
I love asian food. Sushi, pho, hot pot (i’m guessing, haven’t tried this yet.), curries. I love it. I could probably be happy with sushi at least once if not twice a week. I could live off bowls of white rice with just enough of the starch to stick together in tasty and easy to pick up clumps. Apparently I even hold my chopsticks the proper way, not the cheating way. And I’m fairly good with them, although I am having to get used to the rounded ends as opposed to the tapered to a point that I got used to.
Where was I? Right. I love asian food. And I am sure that I will love ‘Kiwi’ food, if I find any. the dinner that we had out with S & H was probably close to what some would call ‘normal’ food for a former British colony. But it’s still not quite right. For one thing, if you say the word ‘pie’ down here, most people assume you’re talking about the savory kind. Meat pies, of varying flavors and sizes. E loves his steak and kidney pies. I have yet to try a savory pie.
I have, however, been lamenting the loss of sweet pies. Fruit pies. The one I’ve been fixated on the most, and I have no idea why, has been the cherry pie. Short pastry tender and flaky and the ruby red, sweet and disastrous filling, topped with either more pastry or if you’re really lucky topped with crumbled topping. A forkful would garnish you that sweet juice of the cherry, the tartness of summer in your mouth, and that crumbly goodness to lick it all up with.
I have hunted. I have searched. I have peeked into the different cafes and restaurants that we have passed by. None, none of them have cherry pie. I’m lucky if they have a lemon tart (the marvel grill and the tapas bar both had this choice). So I am still hunting for that piece of home.
Another thing that I have been missing is pasta. Good italian pasta. with red sauce and parmesan cheese. I have Udon, and that’s good in the soups that I’ve been making, but it’s not quite the same thing. So tonight, while I have the house to myself, I made myself a bowl of penne. I topped it with some spaghetti sauce that E bought me and with the parmesan cheese. I will probably regret the amount of cheese that I used, but the taste of the pasta, the feeling of absolute comfort and happiness that went through me as I nibbled and chewed and felt the red sauce and the cheese and the bite of the aldente penne. It was warm, it was comfortable. It was fairly close to home.
Still not quite doing it for you? Still not quite there, not hitting that button for making you feel better about being so far from just about everything that you know but still being able to understand everybody around you? Very well, my friends. For the cure to this, I bring you, Denny’s.
Yes, that Denny’s. The breakfast slams, the tuna melt, the oreo shake. All of it, right here in downtown Auckland. Now, the menu looks familiar, but don’t be too placated right off the bat. There are some things missing, like the cherry pie filling that you could put on your pancakes or french toast. Or the huge ‘Slams’ that could probably feed a small African family but feed one very hungry American adult male. There are some new things! Like chicken satay, or a chicken curry with rice. Or the almost dessert option, the Banana Fritter. Which is a banana, dipped in batter, and fried. I say almost because I would have ordered it had I had enough room in my stomach for it. But after an appetizer of chili fries, and a short stack of pancakes with two eggs, I had no room for dessert.
The food was exactly what you expected. Freezer and prefab food, thawed and tossed onto the large grill or into the ovens and served up with consistent quality from New Jersey to Maine to Auckland. So at least I know that between the big bowls of pasta swimming in red sauce that I can make myself and the pancakes I can get at Denny’s, swimming in butter and maple syrup, I can still find some of the comforts of home.
I will find cherry pie filling. I will make cherry pie. I will make Hamantaschen next week. I will bring sweet fruit pies to New Zealand! Ok, maybe not the last one. But I will at least introduce them to my new circle of friends. And from those few mouths, I will ignite a revolution!
Cherry Pie for Kiwis!
What? A bit much? Just watch me.