Monday, June 02, 2008

Tauranga NZ, June 2

Work on the boat continues. It has been out of the water, in the boatyard, for almost three weeks and is crawling with tradespeople. It is two steps forward, one back, pretty much seven days a week. Like a major kitchen remodel...when will it ever be done? Regardless, Ellen returns to the US June 5, Tom on June 29. We will be in the US until December 1 when we will return with fresh visas to --- more boat work!

The weather continues to be beautiful and from the point of view of physical surroundings, Tauranga is lovely but...dull. The most exciting thing around is the food.

May is kiwifruit harvest season. We see trucks and trainloads of it heading out to sea every day. Ellen spent an afternoon visiting a kiwi orchard and packing house during harvest and helped with the picking - hard work in an idyllic setting.

Autumn is spoonfruit season. You eat spoonfruit by slicing it in half and dipping into it with a sharp little spoon like a grapefruit spoon, eat the heart, toss the skin. Kiwi is one spoonfruit. Others are the feijoa (fu-joe-ah), a small green fruit that tastes like bubblegum; the passionfruit - a hard black wrinkly shell filled with sublime seeds and pulp that taste vaguely like pineapple; tamarillo - a bright red sour plum like fruit that might be a cross between a tomato and a tomatillo.

Citrus - bags of the sweetest mandarins and satsumas you can imagine. Piles of persimmons (really nice, like apple) and magnificent pears - varieties that look vaguely familiar but aren't - Beurre Bosc, Taylor's Gold, Nashi.

Avocados on the side of the road, 10 for about $2.50. We swim in avocadoes.
Fresh macadamia oh my. Texture like fresh coconut. Very hard to open - takes a hammer and a lot of whacks.

There are your typical vegetables only with different names: capsicums (bell peppers), silverbeet (chard), kumara (sweet potatoes) along with the pumpkin that appears to be a number one favorite right up there with lettuce, tomatoes and carrots.

Sourcing. Organic is at least as common as in the US. There are supermarkets, produce stores, farmers markets, roadside stands and trucks. In addition to your neighbor, your work colleague, your dentist...scrambling to get rid of their home grown produce. Living on "lifestyle" acreage with your own little orchard is the local dream domicile, complete with gas guzzling pickup truck/SUV and kids attending school and doing sports in town...with gas at over $6 per gallon.

In general, the cost of food is higher than the US. Actually, the cost of everything -including housing- is higher than the US. Salaries are quite a bit lower. We don't really understand how people make it but if our experience is any indication they don't have a lot of appliances or furniture, they don't have heating in their homes, and they don't go out for dinner (restaurants are crummy, expensive, empty, and many of them are closed in the evenings).