A few weeks ago, Jacquie and I were swilling buckets full of the local vintage with our friend Rob, an American who moved to New Zealand when he was a teenager, and never looked back. Or if he did ever look back, it was only to make sure nobody was following him.
Anywho, Rob had just returned from a visit to the States where, as he told it, he ate a lot of the sort of food you just can’t find anywhere else on Earth. Or in New Zealand, for that matter. Rob said the only vegetables he ingested during his trip were onion rings.
Inevitably, the conversation got around to the subject of pickles.
“The only place to get a decent pickle in Auckland is from Martha’s Backyard,” Rob said.
“What a coincidence,” I said. “I wrote an authoritative piece about Martha’s Backyard for my insanely popular and internationally acclaimed blog.”
“Oh, so you’ve been to Martha’s Backyard?” Rob said.
“Never,” I said.
“So you espoused a strong opinion based on hearsay and not on the weight of empirical evidence?”
“Well, I’m mostly writing for an American audience.”
Rob convinced me that it was time to go on a fact-finding mission. I needed to see Martha’s Backyard for myself so I could figure out what I’d been talking about.
Martha’s Backyard wasn’t like what I’d expected it to be. It was the only shop in a dusty strip mall beside a gigantic housing development that had been under construction for almost four years but seemed to have run out of credit before a tenth of it was built. Naturally, I was overcome with homesickness. Then, when Rob and I went inside the shop, I was overcome with regular sickness. For stretched before me, as far as the eye could see––about 60 feet to the back wall––was a row-and-a-half of good old American-made (mostly*) junk food.
We looked around but to our disappointment we couldn’t find any pickles. Then we brought our stuff up to the cashier.
“Hello,” Rob said. He pointed to me. “This is an American.”
“Oh, sorry,” the cashier said. “No refunds.”
I paid for the things that I’d grabbed off the shelf at random, to tell the truth. I bought an eight-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups*, a “family sized” bottle of French’s yellow mustard and some bunting to spruce up the apartment, all for about $17 (U.S.)
Then Rob and I drove up to the top of Mt. Wellington where we got a decent view of the $2 billion, 270-acre (less than half the size of Prospect Park in Brooklyn) housing development which some day 6,500 people may call home if the developers ever get around to finishing it.
Then I went home and inspected my booty.
And seeing that my booty was good, I then looked at the stuff that I bought at Martha’s Backyard.
Then I ate the peanut butter cups*, the Fritos and the Bugles.
Then I washed them down with some mustard.
Then I ate fried chicken made with the Progresso bread crumbs.
Then I…oh, whatever. You get the picture.
All in all I was glad Rob took me to that shop, but I probably won’t go back. Not unless they get a shipment of decent pickles.
Otherwise, I think I’ve about had it with American-y Goodness
*Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: Hecho en Mexico.