Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Some stuff you won't see in New Zealand (Part I of ???)

1) Central Heating. I believe I already covered this in "Some stuff you won't see in the U.S. (Part I of ??)." I'm still fascinated, though.

2) Tipping.
People don't tip here. As a tourist visiting NZ last year, I felt extremely weird about this. I somehow made it through my 20s without ever waiting tables (I was a more of a retail/office rat ... be kind to your Barnes & Noble sales clerks, people!!!) but I have had enough friends in the American food service industry to understand the unadulterated wrath directed toward bad tippers. This wrath made me very afraid. This wrath made me a good tipper.

It's a little different here. Unlike the U.S., where servers earn less than minimum wage and make up the difference with tips, the waiters here get a decent hourly wage which is built-in to the menu prices. Pro: The price on the menu is the total price you pay. No math. I like that. Con: Service is generally slow and less attentive (but still friendly enough) by American standards. In any event, I've gotten used to it and no longer feel like a cheap loser every time we go out to eat.

3) Napkins.
Okay, they've got napkins, but count yourself lucky if they give you one and it's bigger than one of those cocktail napkins you get with the little passed hors d'ouvres at wedding receptions. I've concluded that Kiwis are extremely neat eaters. Or perhaps I am an extremely sloppy eater. Or perhaps Americans just have a wasteful love affair with excess napkins. I suspect all three of these factors are in play.

4) Drip coffee. The coffee here rocks pretty hard. It's pretty much all espresso-based, and it comes with its own unique lingo. "Long black" = espresso shot with extra hot water. "Flat white" = espresso shot with milk. "Cappuccino" = you already know what that is. These options keep me pretty well caffeinated, but sometimes I want just a regular old cup of coffee made with ground coffee beans, and it does not seem to exist in cafes or restaurants. We make it at home with the french press.

5) Krispy Kreme. Do me a favor, loyal North American readers. Get in your car, right now, and drive to your local KK. It's okay -- I'll wait. Is the red "Hot Doughnuts" sign on? Good. Perfect. Park the car, and go inside. (If you're at the one on Ponce in Atlanta, take care not to get assaulted by one of those colorful characters loitering in the parking lot.) Inhale the sweet sweet glaze aroma. Close your eyes and really breathe it in. Is it as beautiful as I remember? Yes? That's what I thought. Approach the slightly haggard-looking doughnut proprietress and order two
hot original glazed (Ah, what they hay? Make it three. I'm certainly not going to judge you.) and a small bold roast coffee.

You have no idea how good you have it.


hernamewaslola said...

Lord, thank you for all your wonders. Especially Krispy Kreme.


Graybay said...

Don't worry about krispy kreme, head to a kiwi bakery and ask for a long donut and a mince and cheese pie. (i'm kiwi by the way)

How are you liking Dunners, I lived there in 97'. It's a great student town.

Cheers Grayson in NC.