Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ko wai koe? No hea koe?

It seems I just can't be satisfied coming to another country without learning another language. At first, I thought it would be enough to focus on learning to understand the Kiwi's crazy form of English. It's been no easy feat to get to the point where I can come out with proper responses to phrases such as "Bob's your uncle", "Good on ya", and "sweet-as".

However, in addition to English, there are actually two other official languages in New Zealand: Māori and NZ sign language. While I've always been interested in learning sign language, I decided to focus on Māori for the time being. Those of you who have visited NZ will know that many place names and signs are in both English and Māori. However, this is a relatively recent change. Māori only became one of the official languages in 1987. Prior to this, and the start of several Māori-language recovery programs, there was actually a fear that the language would be lost. There were many reasons for the decline of Māori speakers, among them the fact that for many years Māori was forbidden in the schools and all proceedings in Parliament were conducted in English. Many Māori felt there was little reason to teach the language to their children. At present only about 4% of the NZ population speaks Māori. However, knowledge and interest in the language (and culture) is on the rise in both official and personal settings.

One of the first things we are learning is "Ko wai koe? No hea koe?": "Who are you? Where are you from?" It seems like a fairly basic question, but traditionally the answer would include a whole description of lineage and family history. When we first introduced ourselves, we were asked to give our name and place of origin, as well as "our" river and mountain. It's added a whole new dimension to some of the discussions Greg and I have been having lately about identity.

*Photos courtesy of my mom. Hopefully we'll get a post up about our travels with her and Robert soon...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

30th B-Day's Deserve Ice Cream Cake!

I have a wee birthday tradition of having a Carvel ice cream cake on my birthday. Doesn't happen every year, but it seemed like my 30th was a good year not to skip. Unfortunately Carvel seems to have not expanded into New Zealand quite yet. So I ventured into unknown territory, inspired a bit from Mekayla's tradition, and decided to make my own ice cream cake. Fortunately the web is filled with ex-Carvel employees who are addicted to making their own cake and provide some great recipes to start from.

I should emphasize at this point that this "cake" is composed entirely of ice cream. There is no spongy cake layer to detract from the ice cream experience. Here, in exquisite detail, is my cake starting at the base:
  • layer of chocolate ice cream (ahh, I wish they sold coffee ice cream in NZ, maybe next year)
  • layer of crunchies (oreo's mixed with Magic Shell Chocolate, this is a KEY ingredient)
  • layer of vanilla ice cream with M&M's mixed in (this was actually a mistake, the M&M shells melt off too much, and they lose their crunchiness)
  • all frosted on the outside with freshly whipped cream
  • blueberry colored whipped cream to decorate the edges
  • M&M's to write "30" with.
  • More crunchies (including some made out of delectable Tim Tams)
The cake had to go through 4 freezing steps over the course of two days. We were freezing it out in the freezer in the garage, so I had to break out the head lamp occasionally to fetch it.

By the second day I think I was on a sugar high from eating too much whipped cream, as were the cats.

It turned out very well in the end, and even the Kiwi flatmates who were particularly horrified during this whole process seemed to enjoy the final result.

Of course Mekayla did try to melt the entire cake by insisting on putting thirty candles on it, but I swiftly averted disaster by blowing them all out (after basking briefly in their glow).

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. Now, if you will excuse me, there is left over ice cream cake that needs my immediate attention!