Eating Out

IMG_3721There’s an awful lot of, mostly awful, advertising on New Zealand television. Much of it the sort of thing you’d see on QVC in other countries. One of the most common phrases uttered on TV in New Zealand must be ‘But wait there’s more”…

I tend to just zone out or play with my smarter than me phone during the ad breaks, or refresh my drink, or do anything other than pay attention to an advertisement shouting at me to buy some new furniture or buy one get one free of something I didn’t know I needed one of, much less two.

One thing I did hear recently though was, ‘Greek Lamb’, at which point I instantly paid attention. I love Greek Lamb.

Sadly though, the information following the temptation was that said Greek Lamb was a new Sub thing, if that’s what they are called, at the horrible fast food outlet called Subway. I say horrible simply because I have only ever visited a Subway to buy cookies on a road trip as the subs, which I believe the filled rolls are actually called, look and smell so completely over processed and unappetizing. I’d never actually had one. Greek Lamb though!

If you know anything at all about me, you’ll know I enjoy my food. That being said, I hardly ever go out for a meal now that I’m home in New Zealand. In the UK I used to go out all the time. At least once a week on average, because you could have a very pleasant meal in a variety of easily accessible environments for a very reasonable cost. In NZ, I have no idea how anyone who likes a drink with their meal can afford to go out of the house to have someone else cook it for them in a licensed establishment.

The standard mark up on wine is 300%. True story! Any wine half decent will start at about $45 for a bottle. A beer is about $10 – $15 in most city dining rooms. $20 or more if it’s one of those pretentious ‘craft beers’. A ‘craft beer’, if you haven’t tried one yet is basically a large scale home brew, where someone has tried to make beer, failed and only made something a bit like beer, but much worse. Undeterred, they’ll give it a silly name like ‘Wizards Pizzle’ accompanied by a label drawn with crayon and try to convince you it’s better than proper, commercially brewed beer so they can charge three times as much for a single trendy bottle. It’s very fashionable among bespectacled, tattooed and heavily bearded young men who like to wear pink checked or plaid shirts, skinny jeans with braces and pointy shoes. A bit like gay lumberjack on a cruise ship holiday might.

You don’t have to try very hard at all to achieve a bill for just 2 people of well over $250 for dinner and a couple of drinks. By not try very hard, I mean a couple of pre-dinner drinks, a starter and a main for 2 and a bottle of wine, just one bottle because you aren’t rich enough to afford two. Maybe a pudding if it’s your wedding anniversary or something. Who can afford to do that?

I’m getting back to the Greek Lamb soon.

Restaurants almost all have a menu, or at least a trendy chalkboard. I believe I’m like a lot of people when it comes to the menu though. I’ll peruse the entire list of fare with interest then I’ll choose what I always have. Whatever is on that menu which involves duck. Unless it’s breakfast in which case I will invariably order Eggs Benedict. People suggest you should be adventurous with the menu, choose something different. I scoff at them. Why would I choose something I was indifferent to over something I like on the rare occasion I’m paying a cook?

I’m comfortable there is nothing you could do to a piece of pork that would make me choose it over duck. I cook as fantastic a pork chop as you could ever hope to encounter on my BBQ at home, I don’t need to pay someone to cook a piece of pork less well than I can. Same goes for lamb, I can also cook that at home. Not Greek, or Morrocan lamb though!

You usually only have chicken if you are feeling a bit poor or unimaginative at home, because it’s easy to cook, inexpensive and delicious. I’d never pay for it in a restaurant, because it’s chicken.

Fish is what I call punishment food because it’s not real food, it’s fish. Say you’ve been overdoing the rich foods and have got a bit tubby so you might have some fish to make you feel like you’re on a diet. It’s expensive in New Zealand and in fact fish is really best served with chips in some newspaper when you can’t be bothered cooking.

Nobody can cook beef like I can on my BBQ, so I’m not going to pay a chef to cook me a steak, I can do that at home.

So I have the duck, or Morrocan lamb, which is even better than Greek lamb. I once had seafood chowder, but that was at lunchtime and having a well-made fish soup at lunchtime is acceptable. In fact that’s the only time soup counts as a meal, at lunchtime.

However, here I was, on my first trip to the counter at Subway, at lunchtime in search of a Greek Lamb experience. There was a bored looking Indian girl asking me what size I wanted, “6 inches or 12” she asked?

A half a foot long sandwich sounds plenty but the roll looked puny even in her tiny hand. I decided to go the full foot.

‘Which bread?” Was the next question, whereupon I was presented with an array of different hued bread rolls. “White”. I replied

“Which cheese do you want?”

I looked at her, looked at the varieties of cheese slices, and looked down the counter at what seemed like several hundred thousand other ingredients, pre-prepared and sorted into their own tins.

I asked, why do I have to choose a cheese? What does the Greek Lamb thing normally come with? I just want a Greek Lamb sub please. “You have to choose your filling?” “Doesn’t it come already decided?” “What if I choose the wrong thing? “Surely me filling it with all manner of inappropriate fillings would diminish the Greekness of my Lamb?”

“Do you want it toasted?” “I don’t know, what do people normally have?” “There is no normal, everyone chooses their own way”.

I looked at the remaining choices I would have to make, I lost the will to live, and I don’t want to have to tell the girl what to put in my Greek Lamb sandwich. I want her to know what goes in one. I don’t want have to choose a variety or option of everything that goes in my sub. I was bored now, I’d had enough.

I had made a special trip to my first Subway encounter other than popping in for some macadamia nut cookies as I was passing. I really wanted a Greek Lamb subway thing. It was too hard, there were too many choices, far too much thought to go into a sandwich, which was advertised as something I wanted but the reality was I had to tell them what to put in it. Surely that’s not how it works? When did having personal choice become a pain in the arse? I like having a list of lunch rolls to chose from, I don’t then want to choose how to make it though. I want the people I’m paying to make my Greek Lamb lunch because they advertised it on the television, to at least know what goes in a Greek Lamb roll. I left, lunch-less. Am I asking too much?

I probably won’t even go back if they put duck on the list. Let’s not be hasty though.

I’m going to buy a book and learn how to make Greek Lamb, it can’t be that hard, it’s just lamb with a bit of yoghurt and other bits surely? It’ll be one less thing I have to choose on a restaurant Menu. If only duck was widely available in New Zealand.

This entire story was supposed to just be a Facebook status update about a sub-standard Subway experience, but I got distracted by all the other food stuff.

I’m hungry now.


9 replies »

  1. I love it. Especially the subway thing.That’s so true. I once toured NZ with the Ozzie Comedian “Steady Eddie” and one of his routines was about the exact same experience at subway. It shouldn’t be that hard,

  2. You made me laugh! Your post reminds me of the first Subway encounter I had many years ago. Agh, so many questions. Lunch time’s not meant to be stressful. All for Moroccan Lamb 😏

  3. Hahahahaha, love it and know exactly where you’re coming from! My and I have the same problem with food and prices here in France, yes France, the country that’s supposed to be the gastronomic capital of the world, bollocks is it!!! Over priced and over rated, especially in the region we live, Haute Savoie. Main diet is cheese, meat, potatoes, cheese, potatoes and more meat, normally all served together on one plate and covered in cream and more cheese “zat will be serty five euro each”. As for the wine, normal mark up here can be 400-500%. We now cook at home, far cheaper, far better and always served with a smile and like you, one of my favourites is duck “magret de canard” which I can cook as good as any poncy French chef, better according to my wife. Hence to say, we’ve had enough of France and are heading South, back home for me to NZ. Should be there by early Jan. But, my friend, you now have me worried. Are we leaving one over priced, up itself country to only end up in another one. I know the New Zealanders will be much friendlier than the frogs, racists bastards they are but will we be disappointed with eating out and the prices. We were last there in 2014 and we were quite surprised at how many new restaurants and cafés had opened up around the country, some great curry houses especially. I fancy we’ll get a good look at NZ as we’ll be traveling every nook and cranny by motorhome before we decide on a place to settle. It’ll probably be a town without a Subway. Only ever eaten in one of those establishments and that was once too many!
    As for your Moroccan Lamb, check out this recipe. The BBC do some great recipes…

    Keep up the blogs as I’m always interested to know what’s going on back home. who knows, may bump into you somewhere remote on our journey!!!


  4. Oh my, you’ll be surprised at how many countries have the “but wait, that’s not all” in tv. It’s standard TV Shop language. I agree, a huge pain, but not a kiwi thing. (In SA it’s even the same voice as here).😜

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Sandy, you always bring a smile to my face!

    At the restaurant where I work, we occasionally have lamb, sometimes from NZ, the rest of time locally raised in Vermont. I’m especially fond of little lamb “lollipops” on the grill.

    Happy travels!

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