All posts filed under: Miscellenia

The Vegetarian Turkey: Killed it

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays, and one of the few American things that I would really miss in New Zealand.  To help me to feel at home, my lovely in-laws have thrown a Thanksgiving dinner every year since Mr D & I got married.  This year, since we finally have our own house (with a dining room even!) we got to host it ourselves.  Exciting!  The in-laws came up from Nelson, and MIL cooked with me, so we’re continuing the tradition of doing it together. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I was talking about the holiday with a friend from Scotland.  She asked if I make a vegetable turkey since I’m vegetarian (well, not actually vegetarian, just complicated). “A vegetable turkey?  Like a tofurkey?” “No.  Like this:” She was joking. But I instantly thought “OMG!  I want one!” So I had lots of fun at the Sunday market buying vegetables, and just as much fun giggling and arranging them with MIL on Thanksgiving day, and despite the enormous potential for this idea to turn …

Blackbirding and Bislama: language and culture in Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a nation in the South Pacific made up of eight main islands, and 79 further small islands . The islands are a united nation not out of any shared (original) language or culture, but out of shared colonial history: the great European powers in the Pacific, in their infinite wisdom, decided these islands would make a governable grouping based on a map, not on any links between the people. The national language of Vanuatu, and the one language that you can guarantee an Ni Vanau will speak, is bislama. As well as bislama, each Ni Vanau will speak one or more of the 100+ native Melanesian languages (making Vanuatu the most language dense country in the world), and possibly English, or French, or both. I was first exposed to bislama a year and a half ago, staying in a backpackers in the Hawke’s Bay. A group of young Ni Vanautu men in New Zealand as seasonal workers, picking peaches and nectarines, were also at the backpackers. They were shy and giggly, talking to …

Clothing the World of Katherine Mansfield

Modernist writer Katherine Mansfield is arguably the most famous Wellingtonian, and, after Sir Edmund Hillary, possibly the most famous New Zealander, of all time.  (Yes, at the moment there are probably more people who know of, say, Peter Jackson, but in a century?). She was definitely my first introduction to New Zealand.  In high school I read ‘At the Bay’ and ‘The Garden Party’, both set in Wellington, as well as her London based ‘Bliss.’  I enjoyed Mansfield’s short stories: the sense of place and time, the ability to convey personality in just a few words. It wasn’t until I discovered Mansfield’s poetry that I fell in love with her work though.  The humour of A New Hymn, the magic of Butterfly Laughter, the picture she paints in In The Rangitaki Valley!  Gorgeous! In addition to being an amazing writer, Mansfield is also fascinating as a person: her life spanned one of the most interesting shifts in societal mores and expectation that history has ever seen.  Fashions, are, in fact, the perfect way to illustrate the shift …