Saturday, 6 December 2014

Kiwi weapons of mass destruction

What do you  get for the’ man who has everything’ for his birthday? It’s the perennial wail from many a woman and totally applicable to me.
Last month Jean-Claude celebrated the end of his 60s. He’d also be having an operation to save himself from his prostate cancer so I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge his milestone and raise his morale while he’d be recuperating. But what to get ? He has everything he needs and isn’t interested in collecting things. He had no ideas to offer.
He’s never been to NZ but I couldn’t afford a trip. Why not give him a taste of NZ all the same ?
I imported foodstuffs originally from NZ. They travel by boat to the United Kingdom and from there you use a website to order them into France. The items are getting a bit pricey and closer to their use-by dates by the time you get them but it's not as if you'd do it every week.
I went to a lot of trouble to wrap his pressie in the spirit of things. I cut up an old calendar of NZ and stuck the pictures around the sides of the boxes, but he scarcely noticed in his fixation to open them.

 Note: I ordered from

Here's what he found inside- carefully chosen to represent NZ tastes and culture:
12 bottles of Mac's Gold beer
Griffins Chocolate Chippies
Griffins Chocolate Macaroons
Griffins Afghan Biscuits
Cadbury Jaffas
Bluebird chips
Pascall Pineapple Lumps
Whittaker's Peanut Slab
Cadbury Coconut Rought _ King size
Maggie Onion Soup (for making dips for Christmas)
Trident noodles
Hubbards Breakfast Cereal
Whitlock's Mint Sauce
Whitlock's Tomato Chutney Sauce
Bell teabags
L&P Lemon & Paeroa
Watties Creamed Corn
The whole lot (almost) lasted him 2 weeks. Being a self-confessed 'gourmand' if it's there he eats it. I explained that some of it should be reserved for after his operation, to lift moral. He agreed, but that didn't happen. So, what was the verdict? His reactions were interesting.

His favourite item was undoubtedly the pineapple lumps, declared awesome. I was surprised when he handed me the packet a week later and he had thoughtfully left ONE in the bottom reserved for me. What a symbolic sacrifice. My god that lump was good.
He decided to try the Vegemite. I explained that product is actually Australian and that there is a kiwi equivalent but that my preference had been Vegemite. I explained you put it on sandwiches and toast and in soups. He reached for a spoon to dip into the pot. Just a small spoon I advised, it's not like jam you know.
Tentatively he tasted it and then put the lot in his mouth. It looked like a nuclear bomb had exploded inside him but he was desperately trying to be 'cool'. As I looked away he disappeared into the laundry. I popped my head around the door and saw him retching and desperately trying to wash his mouth out with water. He declared it absolutely inedible - this from the Frenchman who states he can eat anything. He was incredulous when I told him we kiwis love the stuff, such products are a national treasure. We tested it on Baika his dog. She licked for a few seconds and all seemed well but then she too thought better of it and refused to try any more - this from the French dog that eats everything.

The beer was declared quite good, the biscuits - in particular the afghans - were demolished in short order, the chocolate coconut rough was very much enjoyed and he shared a 'taste of home' with me on one occasion. The peanut slab wasn't his thing. The cereal was mostly eaten but it lacked chocolate (hey, he's French and must have some chocolate in his breakfast cereal).
He was cooking lamb leg chops for lunch so I suggested we crack open the bottle of mint sauce. He has the typical French attitude to English-style sauces - they are to be despised. With a bit of nudging he plopped a bit on his plate and watched how I ate mine. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach for more, seconds and thirds. It was hard not to smirk but I managed to keep it in. In the end he said it wasn't for him but he'd keep the rest of the bottle in the fridge for the next time I wanted to eat some lamb with mint sauce.He declared it bizarre how the English like sugar in their sauces with meat dishes. Certainly this dietary practice is looked down on in France, land of patisseries.

There's little left from this exploration of NZ but it's a certain thing that if NZ airdropped pots of Marmite or Vegemite over the islamic extremists, the coalition troops would then have an easy time of it, mopping up these radicals bent double by a kiwi delicacy. Prisoners could then be doused in mint sauce et voila! Sheer torture.


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