Monday, February 05, 2018

Turkeys depart

Yesterday, we had a family lunch at Denny’s in Wairau Park in Auckland’s North Shore. It’s a place we’ve been to many times, especially when we have quite a few people (seven yesterday) because they can always accommodate us. The caption in the Instagram photo above explains why this particular visit struck me. The reality is, everything changes, and nothing stays the same forever. Including us.

There have been many improvements over the years, but it’s still not all that easy to find true American-style food in New Zealand restaurants. That’s not really a complaint, just a statement of fact (though some Americans may choose to complain about it). Fast food aside, there’s not much: Very little Mexican food, true American-style pizza requies a visit to a specialist place, and turkey is non-existent.

Denny’s was the only place I’ve ever been in New Zealand that had dishes with turkey on the menu. Some years, their roast turkey dinner was my Thanskoving dinner, as it was most recently in 2015. That “tradition” is now over.

The sandwich I mentioned in the photo caption was the “Super Bird”, which is still on the menu, but with smoked chicken instead of turkey. Meals with smoked chicken are in nearly every NZ cafe and restaurant, it seems, but, in any case, it’s certainly not unique.

This is one of those realities that no one (except me…) ever tells would-be expats about. Among the many adjustments that Americans, in this case, have to make is the unavailability of many of the foods we’re used to. Turkey is the biggest example of that, with nothing in grocery stores except small frozen turkeys, frozen stuffed turkey rolls, and maybe some packaged sliced processed turkey for sandwiches (deli counters in supermarkets don’t carry sliced turkey—or even sliced chicken, usually—and there are no frozen prepared meals with turkey).

The reality is that New Zealanders just don’t like turkey very much, and that’s the problem with other foods we Americans know and maybe love. True American hotdogs are rare. Those American style pizzas at specialist places are actively disliked by many Kiwis. I’ve never had a real (as we Americans define them) bratwurst or polish sausage. And that’s just a few things—there are many more.

The point is, really, that any would-be expat moving from one country to another has to accept that they will not be able to find the foods they know and love, and probably not some other products, either. It’s necessary to find alternatives or to simply move on. But if something as simple as not finding turkey on a menu is going to cause a problem, then maybe being an expat isn’t the best option for that person.

Me, I’m just nostalgic. I actually liked Denny’s roast turkey dinner, and I appreciated being able to have it on some Thanksgivings. Nowadays, though, I actually hardly ever miss turkey, mainly not until I’m reminded about it as I was yesterday.

Everything changes, and nothing stays the same forever. Including us.


rogerogreen said...

I should eat MORE turkey, not just at Thanksgiving

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yeah, but not so easy here. We eat chicken a lot, though.