Jerusalem Artichokes, nice to meet you!

 

Freshly harvested Jerusalem artichokes

Freshly harvested Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes don’t look very appealing. Their flowers do, it’s just like a sunflower. Right yellow and tall. Very pretty.  And if you didn’t know you wouldn’t go digging for the root once the flower had died off. And you would certainly not expect that it is edible! But it’s worth digging for them, cleaning them up and cooking with them.

I got introduced to these knobbly roots in a little local restaurant just up the road. I loved them so much that I had a chat to the Maitre d’ about what they were and how they grow. He gave me a handful to try to grow them myself. Which I did! You basically just stick them in the ground and they will start growing. And growing.. Once you have them it’s hard to ever clear them all out as they create little tubers that go  everywhere and grow their own flowers. And so on. I you don’t have enough space, make sure you contain them in a pot or so, otherwise they’ll take over.

I use them generally as I would use potatoes. I scrub them, cut the ugly parts off, but leave most of the skin on. then roll them in olive oil, some rosemary, and salt and pepper and roast them at 190 for 20-30 minutes.

I’m so glad I got introduced !

J

Real Kiwi in an orange Jacket

Bruce mason centre in Takapuna is buzzing. Lots of people: old, young, families, couples, all sorts. 450 of them. All very excited. As am I! And no this is not for a concert, or a comedy night. We are all here because we want to be and will be NZ citizens after tonight’s ceremony.
I am going to be a real kiwi!! After living here for 9 years and feeling more and more passionate about this beautiful country, I thought it was time to show my true allegiance.

So the final stage tonight is standing up, reading the allegiance together with all those others from so many different parts of the world. And we all want to live in NZ.

And singing the National Anthem for the first time as citizens. Wow, I really wasn’t expecting the emotion. Almost every second sentence I just had to stop. To stop the trembling. And to understand what the words really meant. ‘ At thy feet’ .. ?

Very special. I am looking forward to my kiwi future, to contributing to the future of NZ.

Not without my orange jacket though…

20140721_201700

Outworn Graduation gowns

Image

 

Its uni graduation time in Auckland. There are black gowns everywhere. Students looking like they are by no means ready to enter the labour market are celebrating their uni degree by dressing up in a long black gown and a cap and parading through the mains streets of Auckland.

NZ is a lucky country. Basically everybody who wants to, can go to university. Yes you’ll build up a debt, but unemployment in NZ  is pretty low, so you can pay that off pretty quickly afterwards. There are degrees in all sorts of areas that would not necessarily have been seen as academic years ago and are still not in most European countries. It doesn’t mean the skill learned is not valuable. It maybe should just not be a uni degree nor should it follow the academic traditions like the formal graduations. The only reason it does is because tradition is just applied : we’ve always done it this way.

For some reason NZ likes their education traditions. Take all the incredibly ‘important’ school gala’s, where girls are expected to basically dress as if they are getting married, with all hairdo, nail polish and expensive limousine transfers bells and whistles attached. The amount of grief and unnecessary expense it causes! Becaue if you’re not there dressed as a princess, you are ‘missing out’. And this is not only at the last year of high school, there are at least 3 years you have to go.
The other week somebody told me there was a formal graduation ceremony they had to attend from day care with presents and all. Really?

I can see this is my practical down to earth Dutch mind at work here. The mind that questions traditions for traditions sake, all having to dress in the same uniform (and paying big bucks for it too) because heaven forbid individual expressions amongst a group and yes, mandated unnecessary expenses too.

I am very happy for all of them that they have passed their exams. Education is fantastic and  achievements should be celebrated. But do they really have to be so traditional, so regulated and so costly and commercial? Go celebrate, do it your way and not because others tell you to put on that outworn gradation gown again.