Thursday, March 24, 2011

Celebratory Dining Options

(or, “Fun in the Remote Highlands of New Guinea,” Vol. 4)
Today is my daughter’s birthday.  We told my husband as he was leaving for work this morning that we would be going to Applebee’s for lunch.  He told us to have fun.
We dream a lot here.  :)
Actually, I would have said “Johnny Carino’s,” but it’s been so long I couldn’t remember the name of the place. 
I said a few posts ago that there are no restaurants here.  That’s not exactly correct.  There is one restaurant in Kainantu.  Sometimes it is even open.  We’ve never been there, but we know people who reportedly have.  It’s about a 25 minute drive.
In the daytime.
When the bridge isn’t out.
But that’s not the point.  In other “big cities” (it’s all relative), there are restaurants … and some places even more than one to choose from.
But, here in our little township, we have the “Ukarumpa Kai Bar.”  (“Kai” is the Melanesian Pidgin word for food.)  This fine establishment is open when the store is open, typically Monday to Friday.  From 11am to almost 4pm, it usually even has food.  :)
Typical fare includes hamburgers (K7.50 … about $3.15), chips (also known as French fries – K4.50 … about $1.90; these are edible for the first thirty-six seconds after they leave the deep-fryer; after that, you must have the jaws of a cow to break them down), meat pies, and roasted chickens (sold whole, half, and quarter).
They also have hot dogs on the menu, but don’t be fooled.  These are not your typical American hot dogs. 
Now most expats would not see this as that great a loss.  However, I had a friend tell me a couple weeks ago that when she went home on her first furlough, her mother asked her, “If you could have any food you have been missing, what would it be?”  Her response?  A hot dog.
Now, while I am not the greatest connoisseur of the great American frankfurter, and that certainly wouldn’t be my first choice, I have to admit, I totally understood what she meant.  Throw some of that canned Hormel chili (no beans variety, please) on top and I’m there.  (Gross, I know.)  But, please … when we get ready for furlough, don’t everyone start stocking up on hot dogs.  At the risk of being rude, after about the third meal of them, I’d be heading to Carino’s.  But, again, I digress.
Ice cream, when available, is the best bargain in town: K1.70 for a two scoop cone … about 70 cents.  It is available in elaborate flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana, toffee (which is bright yellow), coffee, and mango.  They even have blueberry ice cream from time to time, which is especially odd in a country that doesn’t have blueberries.
They were out of ice cream today, but back to the outing at hand.
I told Andie I knew this great little bistro that I wanted to take her to for her birthday.  Since we eat there about twice a year (with the exception of 70 cent ice cream), she was all in favor. 
She likes the fries.  Hmm.
So, we walked the 12 minutes downhill to the store and stood in line.  They were out of meat pies, her first choice.  I suggested we get a chicken (which is right tasty, actually, but you have to be prepared to rip it apart and eat it with your hands … fortunately they have paper towels.  Sometimes.)
She decided on a hamburger and chips … er, fries.
Which brings me to a rather humerous rabbit trail … that same friend who relished the hot dogs (no pun intended)?  She and I were headed to the store the other day.  She asked some of our co-workers if they wanted her to get anything for them.  To our American friend, she said, “Would you like me to get you some fries?”  Then, two minutes later, to our New Zealander friend, she said, “Would you like me to get you some chips?”  Didn’t even flinch.
As we walked to the car, I commented on how impressed I was by her cultural sensitivity.
She didn’t even realize she had done it.  :)
Anyway, back to today.  Andie and I had burgers and chips (I have to call them that, since, if you note the picture, we only had “tomato sauce” with which to garnish them), and Fanta “Creamy” sodas.  You may never have heard of Fanta “Creamy,” but let me assure you it is a delight that has made this entire international escapade worthwhile.  It is described as “strawberry ice cream flavor.”  Not really, but close enough. 
While we were sitting there outside, under the grass-roofed shelter, sharing a table with other people, some friends of ours came and sat down on the bench seat beside us.  When they found out it was Andie’s birthday, my friend Birgitta decided to serenade her.
In Dutch.
Lang zal ze leven, lang zal ze leven,
Lang zal ze leven in de gloria.
In de glo-ri-a, in de glo-ri-a.
Hiep-hiep-hiep hoera!
Hiep-hiep-hiep hoera!
(Let her live long in glory; hip-hip hurrah!)

The happenstance of the moment wasn’t lost on me.  That’s just cool.
Happy birthday, kiddo!


  1. This brings back memories of my own childhood! Good times. I love the kai bar!

    Happy Birthday, Andie! :)


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