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at the table (aka the good, the bad and the ugly)

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Auckland, New Zealand

As predicted, the trip’s influence is infiltrating our kitchen.

We bought oats, but have not yet made our traditional morning porridge. In the mornings we’ve been too busy banging boiled eggs together to find the winner with the unbroken egg as we learnt to do in Moscow….

(Moscow Memories)

we’ve been chopsticking our way through chicken soup with noodles….

we’ve been slurping sago cooked in coconut milk, and even proving television advertising is true: Kiwi-kids-are-Weetbix-kids (who knows if this ad, which used to run years ago, is still on…..can’t say we’ve bothered turning the tv on to find out).

And that’s just breakfast time.
At dinnertime we’ve been devouring salads and relishing lasagne, which reminded us of the one and only lasagne on the trip – a wonderful one we made whilst couchsurfing in Hanoi. We’ve had one of the kids’ favourites – nachos. Soon we’ll be tucking into a roast lamb with roast potatoes, pumpkin, kumara, carrots and some red cabbage (and we’ll remember how the Romanians also eat lamb, especially at Easter, and how they cannot get their heads around the idea of teaming it with mint jelly).

But the focus of mealtimes has not simply been the food.
You see, all the not-sitting-together-as-a-family-for-meals (whether because there were not tables big enough for us, or because we were sprawling round on the ground outside the motorhomes or for whatever other random but frequent reason) has meant that the concept of table manners has disappeared from our family identity.
Children need to be re-taught to stay at the table until everyone has finished eating, they need to be taught to leave their cutlery alone until it’s time to eat, they need to be taught that it’s rude for everyone to speak at once, they need to learn to listen, they need to be reminded that we are now in New Zealand – we are not in China and so we will not slurp our soup – we are not in Vietnam and therefore we will not be throwing our bones on the floor (Tgirl5 liked that cultural practice <wink>) – we are not in Mongolia and so we will not be licking our bowl clean – we are not in Poland and so we will not be having delicious desserts at every meal. Now that we are no longer sharing cutlery and glasses, they need to learn that we set the table with one of everything for each person – and that dinner plates and bread-n-butter plates have a purpose (no need to use only tin bowls for every meal) – and that when you’ve finished eating you don’t leave your knife looking like it’s about to invade the next country on your itinerary. Tablecloth and napkin etiquette is a long way off.

summer BBQ

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Auckland, New Zealand

For our readers abroad (and now that we are back we should use the kiwi-ism and call you/them “overseas readers”…..we don’t tend to say “abroad” here – probably because in order to go abroad we have to go overseas. Besides, it sounds posh!)…..anyway, the point is we are back in the swing of quintessential kiwi life: we were invited out for a BBQ. Tomorrow we’ll be invited to another. The formula is simple: we take some homemade bread, the lady of the house makes a salad and the men bond as they char the meat over the grill. It’s a recipe that speaks of summer.

The only thing is, it doesn’t really *feel* like summer to us.

Well, of course it is much much warmer than we were a month ago in Romania.
The sun is shining and it hasn’t rained yet, which is actually pretty good for an Auckland summer <wink> That sun sets after nine….which is later than the European winter-is-approaching and so the sun disappears far-too-early-for-our-liking that we were experiencing just a week ago….but it is also much earlier than the long lazy evenings of Italian summer that had preceded the autumn…..*then* the sun was still making shadows at 11pm!!
And the evenings get nippy. We know that; we’ve lived here for most of our lives. But today when we went to our friends’ place we did not think to take sweatshirts. Brrrr.
(But the cockles of our hearts were warmed as we watched their cat give birth to kittens….yes, even Mrs Don’t Like Cats was interested).

For the past few years SUMMER has meant begging, borrowing and eventually buying camping gear and going away with friends to the beach. This year the tent is still gathering cobwebs under the roof. It will not be coming down. We are still emptying boxes. It feels more like we’re moving house than taking a holiday.
Probably because that’s exactly what we *are* doing! And going to BBQs too.

insert pics if our host sends them to us –
we forgot to take our own camera

and one pic from our backyard to remind us it IS summer

seeking Christmas

Friday, December 25th, 2009
Istanbul, Turkey Turkey has had a reputation in recent times of being not particularly friendly to adherents of the Christian religion. We wondered what we’d find. Christmas Day dawns – bright and early….well, early, but barely light. We are staying right ... [Continue reading this entry]

three days ago the third…and four days ago too

Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Brasov, Romania Throughout much of Western and Central Europe the sixth day in December is set aside for celebrating St Nicholas’ feast day. Known for being kind to children and as a generous gift-giver, the saint has been remembered now ... [Continue reading this entry]

what a welcome! (three days ago again)

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
Brasov, Romania Slideshow Sunday the Second…..we were invited to share our slideshow at a small local church. It was exactly fourteen months and one day since we had been to a “real” church service. Opening the door at the top of the ... [Continue reading this entry]

three days ago (magical moments)

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
Brasov, Romania Some days you wake up and you have no idea that the day is going to be filled with surprises and magical moments. Saturday was one of them. Because we were invited to a local church on Sunday, the ... [Continue reading this entry]


Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Brasov, Romania December first always signifies the beginning of our Christmas preparations. A year ago we were in Laos, the most non-Christian country we have visited. This year, it’s Romania, and we have six months of frequent church-visiting behind us. One of the ... [Continue reading this entry]

intergenerationalism (soapbox)

Monday, November 30th, 2009
Brasov, Romania Please note this post is written by the Crazy-Mama of the family. The Sensible-Father does not necessarily share all the sentiments! Here’s a little girl and her great-grandmother. Mother and grandmother were there too, but we didn’t get a picture ... [Continue reading this entry]

back to town

Sunday, November 29th, 2009
Brasov, Romania It was so easy to get out of the habit of going to church on a Sunday. Here it has been easy to slip back into the habit. But it’s a habit with a difference. The church “family” ... [Continue reading this entry]

“Don’t go to Romania,” they said. “Especially not for a whole month,” they urged.

Saturday, November 28th, 2009
Pitesti, Romania Before arriving in Romania, we spoke to countless Romanians, all of whom were most disparaging about their capital city, Bucharest, and most of whom were unimpressed with the rest of the country as well. Once we arrived here, ... [Continue reading this entry]