I am friends with people from outside New Zealand and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Normally these ‘non-kiwis’ add an interesting nuance to my life and occasionally give me weird flavours of M&M’s (Americans y’all). Whatever UKIP says, making friends with these foreigners has had a positive impact on my life, with little to no economic strife (except that time that I got drunk and paid for all the cocktails THAT’S WHAT I CALL ECONOMIC STRIFE). Recently however I encountered a problem; Kiwi cafe Ozone near Old Street celebrated its fourth birthday a couple of weeks ago with a Mean Feed, a proper kiwi mean feed. And I, always wanting to educate the heathens, decided to take an American with me. An American at a Mean Feed, what could go wrong?
First up was the translation issue. Turns out ‘mean’ is defined as something totally different in America, to our star spangled friends it apparently means ‘unkind’ or ‘spiteful’, whereas of course we all know that ‘mean’ to kiwis is a fucking awesome good time. So when I invited my M&M provider to a Mean Feed, she thought we were heading into a spiteful trough of food. Man this international relations schtick is hard. After I calmed her fears and said there was only a small chance of people being horrible to her (meaning mostly me if she tried to take food off my plate), off to the Ozone Mean Feed we happily went.
I morphed into ‘Super Kiwi’ the moment I walked through the door. With an accent so thick you could throw a sheep at it and a penchant for ghost chips, it’s actually quite amazing that my friend didn’t just run away then and there. Even more so when we sat down and the first thing on the menu was ‘mousetraps’. Believe it or not her disbelieving look didn’t get any better when I described what a mousetrap was – essentially a baked cheese and marmite on toast. Sorry international relations.
But like most Kiwi things, as soon as you put it in your mouth all is forgiven. The starters were seriously a taste from home, but of course Ozone had made fancy versions of everything (as is only fitting for its birthday meal). As I sipped my lamington cocktail, the cocktail that I would marry in a heartbeat, it was just amazing to hear a hubbub of kiwi accents around me. Here I was normal, here I could use the word ‘pants’ without being laughed at. Here was home.
Choosing between ‘Meat & 3 veg’ or ‘Fish and Chips’ for the main, I of course went for the Meat & 3 Veg options because I am worried I am becoming slightly lamb deficient now I have been outside the mothership for four years. The succulent lamb shoulder with pea puree was enough to make me sing the national anthem right there at the table. Of course for my American friend this was the only normal part of the entire night, Americans are all about that national pride.
Ozone’s fourth birthday was an amazing chance to indulge in my kiwi-ness. So much of what I miss about home is all wrapped up in food; tasting lamb, lamingtons and mousetraps filled up that kiwi sized hole in my heart. Till next time cuz.
Massive thank you to Ozone for having me along, and so sorry for all the singing.