The Biscuits of Aotearoa

(with some Gluten Free options)

Looking east over a biscuit.

This short but sweet entry contains advice I wouldn’t necessarily follow unless you are thousands of miles from home and are looking for temporary coping strategies to deal with the loneliness you feel after your final loved one jets away. In this post, I’ll be talking about cookies, which I now call biscuits, which I used to not eat very much but to which I have turned in my hours of need. Lots and lots of biscuits. Which is really convenient because I can still say, “I don’t really eat many cookies” and I’ll not be lying, just using vocabulary to cover my tracks, the tracks of this ELA teacher over to the display cabinet to buy another variety of biscuit. I invite you to follow me on my journey.

First stop: my apartment. I purchase the biscuit mix and find a roasting pan inside my oven. I dollop the dough and throw the whole thing in to bake, hoping to fill my apartment with the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies. The smell of childhood, the smell of running through the door after school to find a rack stacked with toll house goodness, the chocolate chips still warm and gooey inside the cookies (partly due to the density of my mother’s recipe). Feeding cookies to my kids, then their feeding them to me as they learned how to bake. My version here is challenged first by a Celsius convection oven and then by a questionable baking mix combined with elderly eggs. I eat them anyway.

Yum

Moving on: the Leeds Street Bakery. A classic salted caramel cookie, gluten free but you would never know it. I always order this biscuit for takeaway, have the barista throw it in a bag while he makes my coffee, then nibble away at it while I wait. I usually end up buying half a biscuit. The only reason this one is intact is for photographic purposes. Once the shot was complete, the biscuit mostly disappeared. Imagine that. The extra bonus of this biscuit is that the Leeds Street Bakery is right next to the Wellington Chocolate Factory which is across the alley from the Fix and Fogg Peanut Butter Stand. A trifecta. So many cures for homesickness conveniently located steps away from each other. I’m feeling better already.

Home again: When I make it back home to my apartment, I enjoy the company of Kate, Max, Eva and Polly (pictured in white) who enjoy the company of a chocolate bun. I live in an apartment on the first floor of their house, which sounds like a low spot, but it is actually built into the side of a high hill overlooking central Wellington. The front yard is a series of switchbacks to the house, and every day I hear snippets of lively conversations and footfalls and the occasional objection of a heavy object as these four move their lives up and down the stairs and past the door to my living quarters. Besides my comfy heated lodgings, I am truly enjoying getting to know these lovely people and appreciate that I’ve got a home to return to every day. And a dog!

Polly, Eva, Kate, Max, and Bun

Back to school: I have to spend a good bit of time at the University, which is problematic because the Vic Bookstore is also the purveyor of the GF cookie slice, which is actually labeled as a cookie in the case and which is presented on the plate as a bar. That’s a lot to keep straight. Good thing it is served at the Uni. If I have any questions about the classification of this baked good, there are loads of professors and graduate students to ask, and so far I’ve met some very knowledgeable ones whose expertise extends well beyond the realm of baked goods. This biscuit/cookie/slice could be my downfall. Sweet, a little salty, variable amounts of chocolate chips, crunchy edges. Staring at me from the glass case. Every day. We shall see.

I’ve actually purchased some books, too…

Finally, over to Fulbright NZ: You never know what you will stumble into when you pop off the elevator and directly into the offices of Fulbright NZ. Actually, if you hear laughter on the ride up, it’s probably not the office workers at their desks on the floors below, but the group on the top floor getting into some sort of mischief.

Making the world safe for biscuits.

Here, they informed me that they were preparing to play tennis in a large racquet event that was being held in lieu of a holiday party. That’s either absolutely true or an elaborate cover up, most likely the former. The collection of costumes came from Chloe, a staff member from the US who adores Halloween. Clearly, biscuits aren’t the only way to deal with longings for home. I’ve brought the group some Tim Tams, a favorite biscuit around the office. Fulbright NZ has an extensive and dedicated staff, but not all staff members were willing to be shown in this photo.

Your tour is complete. I hope you feel better. I do miss home, but things are gearing up around here, including plans for visiting schools around the North Island, which will require me to get behind the wheel. Tomorrow, I have a driving lesson, courtesy of the brave and generous Pip at Fulbright. Our time together will most likely leave me longing for the other side of the road. Minimally, we will need to plan a stop for biscuits along the way. I’ll let you know how we get on.

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