Of Supermarkets and Central Heat

Kiwi houses aren’t centrally heated.

Keep that in mind, should you decide to visit the South Island in winter. Keeping warm has certainly been a significant part of my life since arriving here. The temperature is rarely below freezing, but somewhere between high ceilings, no heat, bare walls and the severely dank climate nighttime begins to feel quite a bit like camping. Things are getting better. We just got hot water and Zach (the other flatmate who has already arrived) just managed to repair a portable electric heater we found in a secondhand store.

Zach is the other American staying in my flat – he’s slightly older than I and attends classes at Denison in Ohio when he’s not sailing, skiing, or cooking like a champ. I can attest to his skills on that last one – last night we feasted on spaghetti with homemade sauce (venison, onions, peppers, basil, fresh tomatoes), potatoes roasted with rosemary and caramelized onions, and garlic bread (my contribution to the cooking – and a worthy contribution if I might humbly say so myself).

Grocery shopping for ingredients and such was edifying – the myriad differences from United States supermarkets were not altogether unexpected, but intriguing nonetheless. A list (in no particular order) of the more significant divergences follows:

1 ) Dunedin does have supermarkets; they are smaller than the supermarkets I’m accustomed to but somehow seem to have more stuff in them.
2 ) New Zealanders have never heard of Italian bread and Swiss or Provolone cheese.
3 ) Sliced turkey costs NZ$34/kilo. That’s US$12/pound. We’re talking lunchmeat here.
4 ) Lamb steaks, on the other hand, cost NZ$14/kilo. That’s US$4.50/pound. We’re talking four-star restaurant meat here.
5 ) Beef products are the same price or slightly more expensive than they are Stateside. However, New Zealand has a much higher quality baseline. The ultimate cheapo ground beef here is leaner than anything I’ve ever seen in a Shaws or Market Basket.
6 ) Lemons and limes are four times the prices at home.
7 ) But kiwis are NZ$0.09 each!
8 ) The price of salmon is horrendous. Horrendous. There was a large pile of international students around the counter who died of internal hemorrhaging upon reading that little price sign they stick in the ice, you know, behind an especially scrumptious-looking fish.
9 ) There are multiple flavors of everything. Ever had canned tuna packed in pineapple juice? Thai spices? Roasted tomatoes and basil?

Anyhow, Zach just went out clubbing with some friends from the Arcadia and Australearn programs. I’m going to turn in. Our other two flatmates (Ulla the Finn and Adrienne the Kiwi) will arrive tomorrow!

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~ by Jack on July 5, 2007.

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