Last week, we got back to Nanjing after spending some time in Melbourne for the wedding of two very good friends of ours. And what a beautiful wedding it was! An incredibly poised and beautiful bride married her suave and debonair groom on a gorgeous summer’s day in the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, flanked by my husband and Mike, the groomsman, and four stunningly beautiful ladies in the bridal party.
Nick flew to Melbourne ten days before me, to do Best Man stuff like the final fittings for the bespoke suits and shoes, as well as the small stag that he organised. A boys trip for the three of them to Queenstown, New Zealand. Apparently, the hut up in the ranges south of Queenstown was every bit as breathtaking as he had hoped it would be, and a perfect backdrop for some tomfoolery!
It’s always interesting what you miss and what you crave from ‘home’ (not that Australia is home for us, I would just like to point out!!!). Adam, the groom and Mike were hanging out for a Ferg Burger in Queenstown, which I have heard has been voted the best burger on the planet! I had given Nick strict instructions that I wanted a meal of red meat as soon as I got off the plane in Melbourne. And I was also craving fresh green veges, like rocket, asparagus, avocado and so much more!
So, now that we live in China, what do we miss the most from Australia and New Zealand?
- Feijoa’s are always on the top of our list as to what we miss from home, as in New Zealand. Nick’s parents have feijoa tree’s out the back of Nick’s childhood home, and when we lived in New Zealand, boxes full of the tangy fruit would end up in our kitchen! They are our favourite fruit and we still crave the bitter/sour taste that is like nothing else we have found.
- Good quality, ethical red meat is high on my personal list of things that I miss from home. And it’s next to impossible to find this kind of meat here in Nanjing. Back in New Zealand, a good quality piece of eye fillet is relatively easy to get your hands on, if you’re willing to pay for it. And since our red meat policy is “quality, not quantity”, we are willing to pay for it when we do eat it!
- Fresh fish and seafood are also very hard to source in China. Chinese LOVE their seafood. They eat fish, shellfish, crab and other seafoods regularly. But the quality and size of the seafood just doesn’t compare to what we take for granted back home. I really really miss the firm flesh of tarakihi, barbequed with slices of lemon… *sigh*
- Salads. I am a huge salad fan. Even the biggest salad naysayers have shut up when my salads have been put before them. My salads are filling, tasty and packed with goodness and texture. And here in Nanjing, I find it very difficult to find the ingredients to make good, rounded out salads. I make coleslaw every week, with apple and apple cider vinegar dressing. But given that iceberg lettuce is virtually non-existent here and that fresh produce just isn’t the same quality as back in NZ and Aus, I am very limited to the salads that I can make. Which makes me sad like you would never believe.
- Easy supply of good alcohol. Not only is decent booze not readily available and expensive when you do find someone who sells it, we also have to be very careful here in Nanjing, because many sellers use chemical fillers to top up their bottles. Fillers that leave you feeling very VERY sick. We’re talking dizzy, nauseous, fainting and vomiting after only one or two drinks. When normally, we can smash at least ten drinks and still be pretty steady on our feet.
- Pies. We love pies. Steak and cheese pies. Potato top pies. Butter chicken pies from any Wild Bean cafe. Lamb and kumara gourmet pies from select cafes around Wellington. Pies are amazing. Nothing beats a hot pie, eaten straight from the paper bag with copious amounts of Watties tomato sauce. My mouth is watering just writing about it.
The funniest thing is that it only took a few days in Melbourne for me to start craving Chinese food. I missed dumplings. I missed noodle soups with tonnes of chilli. I missed milk tea and baked sweet potatoes from street vendors. I missed home. I missed my bed, and my apartment, I missed the lovely guards at the gate to our apartment complex, and I missed wandering along the shops and restaurants in Hexi Wanda. We’ve only been here a few months (like maybe five???) and yet it is starting to feel like home already. We both said on the flights home that we couldn’t wait to get ‘home’ to Nanjing, and then we both giggled after we said it.
‘Home’ isn’t a fixed place. And home is so many different things to me. Home is New Zealand, where we’re from, what we identify as. I felt so at home in the Caribbean when we visited certain islands. Home was Meadowbank, Sydney for three whole years. Home is Nanjing at the moment, the place where we always come back to… For now anyways! Home is my Mum, so long as she has Southern Comfort on the shelf and potatoes and tomato sauce in the cupboard. And most of all, home is my Blondie. That smelly, golden boy that follows me around everywhere. He is my home always.
And looking back at what I have written, I have sure collected a fair few homes! Which is exactly how I like it.