Foreign Food

I’ve been cleaning and organizing a lot these days.  One of the big tasks on my “to do” list was to reorganize the pantry.  While not exactly terrible, it was messy enough that finding something took awhile.  Also, I wasn’t always sure what we had and what we didn’t, which resulted in sometimes buying extra ingredients or opening a new package when another package was already open.  I hate that.

So, everything came out…

What a pile!  This was after I’d thinned it some – I threw out expired items and anything that had been left open for questionable amounts of time.

Next, I went to the $3 store near our flat and bought three large, plastic storage baskets.  Up till now, I’ve only had one storage basket in there and I really needed to get some more.  I divided the items into a basket for spices, a basket for pasta/package meals, and two baskets for baking ingredients.

Here’s what I mean about having too much of one thing and opening packages when another package was already open…

Anyone want some penne?  I certainly have enough!

Sorting through the pantry reminded me of how food names can be somewhat different in NZ than in the USA.  It makes online shopping a bit tricky, because I’ll type what I think a food’s name is into the search box, only to get no results.  I then have to search the online “aisles” until I find it, usually under a slightly different name.  Frustrating!  And some names are completely different {capsicum = bell pepper, coriander = cilantro, pumpkin = squash, courgette = zucchini…}.  But like I said, most things are named just a little differently.  Take sugar, for example.  What I would have called powdered sugar is actually called icing sugar over here.  If I type in “powdered sugar”, I’d get nuttin’ – but icing sugar will bring up this…

Do you know that I have 4 types of sugar in my pantry right now, and none of them is plain, granulated white sugar?  Crazy.

Then there’s flour.  I have regular flour, but I also have flour self-raising {what I’d call self-rising flour back in the States}…

Poor old dessicated coconut {dried coconut}.  The name always makes me think of a dusty corpse!

We also have breakfast foods.  I was really craving oatmeal when we first moved here, so I bought this box of “Uncle Toby’s Oats Quick Sachets”…

Quaker Oats, they are not.  They’re bland and aren’t too good, but we keep them around for some reason.  Every few months, one of us will forget that we don’t like them and decide to make a bowl for breakfast.  Then we take a bite and say, “Oh yeah… we don’t like this stuff.”  There’s only a few sachets left, so maybe we’ll use it up before too much longer.  I hate to throw away food.

Usually, we eat toast or cereal for breakfast.

Sanitarium cereal – for those particularly crazy mornings.

Snicker.  OK, bad joke.

Or we’ll make pancakes, but we don’t do that very often.  I bought this 10 pound package of pancake mix at an American import store during what I can only imagine was a temporary state of ridiculousness.

Who buys 10 pounds of pancake mix for two people who don’t eat a lot of pancakes?  Apparently I do.  And since we have lots of pancake mix, we needed to get syrup to go with it…

Golden syrup isn’t maple syrup, but doesn’t it look like it would go well with pancakes based on the label?  Well, it doesn’t.  At least I don’t think it does.  Apparently, you can use it as a substitute for corn syrup in some recipes, so imagine pouring that on your pancakes.  The only ingredients in it are cane sugar and water, so it’s probably much healthier than corn syrup…

Of course, it’s not all about breakfast food here.  We eat lots of other things, and we like to have condiments to go with them.  One of those is ketchup.  But don’t be fooled!  You might see something that looks an awful lot like ketchup that calls itself tomato sauce.  It’s in a big red bottle, it’s right by the ketchup… but it is not ketchup!  Don’t buy it!  If you’re going to buy some ketchup, get this stuff {but even this doesn’t taste like American ketchup}:

Heinz Tomato Ketchup – the closest thing you can get to American ketchup in New Zealand {and remember – don’t buy the tomato sauce!  They’ll tell you that you can put it on hot dogs and hamburgers and french fries, but… ugh… just don’t do it, OK?}.

If you want something a bit spicier, then pick up some Kaitaia Fire.

Chris loves this stuff.  I always have a bottle in the fridge and a back-up bottle in the pantry, just in case.  I use it in my homemade salsa, taco soup, and many other dishes that require a kick of flavor.  It’s made from organic ingredients grown in the Doubtless Bay region of New Zealand {up north} and we both like it.

And speaking of homemade salsa, I’ve found that there aren’t many brands of corn chips {aka, tortilla chips} that I care for over here.  Here’s one of the few that I’ll eat, but even it seems a bit on the heavy, salty side for my taste:

These are “Mexicano” corn chips – made in New Zealand from New Zealand corn.  I guess they call them “Mexicano” because “New Zealandicano” just didn’t sound right.  While they’re no Tostitos Baked Scoops, you can’t beat the ingredients…

Corn and oil.  That’s all.  And please note that the Energy on the nutrition label is in kilojoules, not kilocalories.  I don’t think that I’d be eating chips that had 652 calories in one serving, thanks very much.

After all that food, you might want something to drink.  We can offer you juice or milk or water or tea, or if you’d prefer something a bit sweeter, some Milo…

Why, oh why did we buy such a big canister of this stuff?  900 grams?  That’s nearly 2 pounds!  We were told that we just had to have some on hand – it’s a classic drink in New Zealand – but neither Chris nor I are particularly fond of it.  It’s nice to have for company, though.  Kiwis seem to like it more than we do.

We prefer something a bit sweeter.  A bit chocolatey-er.  A bit more delicious in every respect…

Americans preferring something sweeter?  Big surprise there, right?  This is Cadbury Drinking Chocolate.  Not “hot chocolate”.  Not “hot cocoa”.  Drinking chocolate.  Perfect for a cold, wet, winter day when your sweet tooth is calling.

While New Zealand food is probably healthier overall than American food, I still need to take my daily vitamin, especially since becoming pregnant.

I first bought these in bulk from an online pharmacy – free shipping and much more economical than at the chemist’s.  Then one day I opened the cabinet and realized that I was out.  What to do?  I couldn’t wait a week for more to arrive, so I trotted down to the local shop and bought this box at full price.  I can’t remember how much I paid, but I do know that it was over $1 per pill.  For vitamins.  Yikes.  Does anyone else think that’s a high price, or am I just cheap?

So, there you have it.  My pantry is all sorted and you’ve gotten a glimpse of what food is like over here in New Zealand.  Thanks for reading!

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10 comments

  1. LZ says:

    Do not use Plain Flour for muffins, they will weigh 5 tons each. Use Edmond’s sweet muffin mix for anything you want to be “lighter”. Don’t try to make pie crusts like home – all crusts come out like shortbread unless you use American flour and Crisco, which you can’t get except at Martha’s or in a care package from home. Golden Syrup is good for Russian fudge. Crystal mustard is the only mustard that tastes like French’s even a wee bit. None of the shortening-like products tastes like Crisco. Milo is quite boring but the Cadbury cocoa with sugar, milk, vanilla, etc. makes proper cocoa, it rocks. Home Brand makes some decent plain tortilla chips for nachos if you can find the plain. Mostly all the tortilla chips here have a lot of flavoring on them like Doritos. Often, strangely, sweet. They are keen on mixing sugar and tomato here (put sugar in all tomato products, yecch) and I really miss savory tangy type tomato flavors. Have not had Uncle Toby’s, but it looks like Cream of Wheat oat bran version, not Quaker Oats? Dessicated coconut is not sweetened here and in very tiny bits rather than shredded like in the States. It’s ok for Indian curries… Do NOT attempt to put Jif in sandwiches, or Jelly Tips anywhere but in your mouth. Vogel’s is good bread. I won’t touch pre-cooked rice. Bin Inn is great as long as you don’t buy nuts (they are often oxidized). Buy the extra-strong-hold clothespins (“cloze pigs”). Otherwise the wind will whip your clothes off the line. They do not do clothes dryers here. I could go on… :D

  2. Jen says:

    How interesting about all the different names. It’s so fun to travel and see how different things are in other countries, but I can imagine actually LIVING there and having to deal with it on a daily basis might get frustrating at times.
    That was so fun to read though!

  3. Jenny says:

    Oh yes – my hubby loves the tasty Tasty Cheese :-) We like it, but I wish we could find some pepper jack cheese – mmmm!

  4. Cristin says:

    Looks very much like an Australian pantry! We have all those puzzling food names and the same brands. Do you guys have Tasty cheese? That one is so puzzling to me … sort of like Cheddar, but not actually particularly tasty.

  5. Priscilla says:

    I’ll help finish that Milo, haha :) I also notice that another very classic Kiwi spread is mysteriously missing from your pantry- Marmite hehe. Although I prefer Vegemite myself.

  6. Hannah says:

    For Mexican food, what I’ve found is try to make it yourself as much as possible when living overseas. Not that a baby is going to make this easy, but if you can learn to make your own corn tortillas, you might be best off. When living in TZ we found a woman from Texas living in the middle of nowhere Uganda making the most DELICIOUS Tex-Mex food you have ever imagined. Fresh sour cream, guac, salsa…

    I’ve worked with (and been) exchange students so I’ve gotten used to the name changes for things but my favorite is aluminum. Aluminium just makes me giggle.

    Thanks for sharing!

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