188. Unfamiliar Groceries

Unfamiliar Groceries: We didn’t do much self-catering in Asia, because amazing meals out were pennies a serving and markets were mostly for gawking (“they want how much for a sack of purple frogs?”). But the cost of living has taken us a little by surprise in NZ and meals out tend to be exorbitantly priced in local dollars, save for the shared portions of fush n chups we’ve enjoyed by many a seaside. So what that means is lots of time spent in Woolworths and New Worlds and Countdowns and our favorite, Pack n Saves, where you do literally pack (your own groceries) and save (lots of coins with little birds on them). Not surprisingly, foreign groceries double as a source of cheap entertainment, an easy kind of culture shock that lets you giggle and wonder at your own pace. Pop quiz: What’s the difference between chow chow and picalilli? We’re still scratching our heads on that one, never mind the fact that they’re both types of relish with American-ish origins that neither of us had heard of until we strolled into a Plimmerton bodega. There’s the bizarre selection of breads, divisible by kinds specifically labeled for “toast” and those for “sandwich,” which is a mistake you only make once. Unrefrigerated eggs are the norm, nearly every brand being free range, some manner of organically fed and packed in cartons that often still have feathers in them. The obligatory stack of unusual candy bars always rounds out the checkout experience (Picnic bar anyone?) and then there’s the staggering variety of common items rendered unusual by new brands and cuts; in New Zealand this is mostly true when wandering the dairy and meat sections. I lost my mind in the bacon case, which features:

1. middle bacon
2. middle eye bacon
3. streaky bacon
4. rindless streaky bacon
5. shoulder bacon
6. gammon/leg bacon
7. green bacon
8. middle rashers
9. rindless middle rashers
10. short cuts

Now some of these refer to the same thing, but the sheer number of different packagings make it seem like we live in a pathetically under served world of American strip bacon with that stupid little window cut in the back for viewing fat content. Anyway more proof that bacon makes everything better, even shopping in New Zealand.


  1. Anonymous says:

    ham torpedo!

  2. Sloan says: