Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tapas: Spanish for "world's smallest portions"

For those of you who have never heard of them, tapas refers to any small, savory, usually Spanish dish served as a snack or as several varieties together to form a light meal. As I am usually oblivious to all things trendy, I barely registered when this manner of noshing became fashionable a little while ago. Yet last Tuesday when Chad & I were exploring the lovely Southern city of Dunedin, we decided to try some as a classy alternative to our road trip standard of PB&J. As the tapas were fairly cost effective, we ordered three types, intending to put together the aforementioned light meal. What we received was this:

For reference, note that the little serving bowls were 4 in. across at their widest point.

While clearly beautifully presented and crafted from top ingredients, THREE orders of the stuff failed to provide even the caloric intake of ONE regular appetizer. Now, I'm not stuck on loading down my stomach in the middle of the day, but the whole caboodle cost twice as much as most appetizers, and we would have had to roll ourselves to the car on an equivalent value of food from any other restaurant we would normally frequent.

*sigh* I must just be one of the masses when it comes to high fashion and fine dining. Guess I'll have to stick to more lowbrow options like Subway where I belong.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Autumn starts...wait for it...right NOW!

Queenstown, Late February 2009

While watching the weather forecast on March the 1st, the meteorologist remarked,

"You may be worried that the start of Autumn means the golden days are behind us, but we're expecting conditions to stay warm and mild through the end of April."

This statement may not seem odd to you, unless you realize that there is no corresponding astronomical event on March 1st to mark a change of season. That's right, here in New Zealand, the seasons change when we say they do, with no pesky scientific interference from solstices or equinoxes.

Kiwi Summer officially runs from December 1st to February 28th (or 29th in a leap year, of course), simply because those are the months that encompass Christmas and the school holidays. Funnily enough, the weather through to the end of March when the equinox occurs is usually more warm and pleasant than it is in December - but March 21st is so much less tidy and easy to remember, am I right?

It probably came about in much the same way as the recent daylight savings time change. Before 2008, Daylight savings time in NZ ran fairly close to that of other places, including the States (with the springing forward & falling back swapped, since our seasons are opposite) because it was handy enough to do so.
But one day, a few bright sparks said, "Hey! Nobody likes it when daylight savings time ends, so why don't we extend it for three weeks and get some more sun-filled days?"
The government replied, "Oh sure, why not? But just get together a petition and have enough people sign it so we know the idea is as popular as you say it is."
"No worries, mate." they said.
And within a few short weeks they had gathered the signatures and *poof* three more government-certified weeks of daylight savings.

Perhaps it's not the best example, what with daylight savings pretty much being an obsolete figment of the imagination, but it all just goes to show that the power of a government's "Because I said so" can be put to less sinister use - like fiddling with time.

P.S. Dear Jill H., I apologize for not researching the proper grammatical use of quotation marks and dialogue before writing this entry, but frankly, I was feeling lazy.