Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The pie, the monkey and The Lunch Box

M hankers for pie, something thats not too easy to find in Phnom Penh.

A couple of months before we went back to New Zealand for our break M answered an after school phone call from J.

'I'm bringing home pie' he thought he heard.

Hopes were dashed when a couple of hours later J arrived home with 'Thai' for dinner. Fresh spring rolls and green mango salad a poor substitute for the meat and pastry combination the average Kiwi eats 15 times a year and the search was on in earnest.

Eventually J heard, from an Aussie, there was fairly decent pie to be had from the 'Rising Sun' and since Australians, like Kiwis, consider the humble hand sized pastry an indelible part of their national and cultural identity, J headed straight over. Pie in hand, later that evening, he was waiting on the 'footpath' outside his office for our driver when he felt a sharp tug on the elbow of his crooked pie carrying arm. There rising to barely knee height sat an adult male Macaque accompanied by two, slightly smaller, hench-monkeys, his eyes fixed firmly on the pie bag. A deft flick of his long fingers, a tooth bared smile and he was off up the street his prize carried above his head in triumph. J arrived home with no pie but an only in Cambodia tale to tell which was not much conciliation for the empty tum of a pie eyed boy.

During our holiday in New Zealand there was a requisite amount of pie consumption and on our return we discovered AusKhmer, which sometimes had them warehouse style, involving the careful negotiation of boxes of wine and jams, now has a sample of their instore stock on airconditioned shelves at 'The Food Pantry' -including pie- although it wasn't last weekend when we checked.

Finally, after following a tip from the expat grapevine, we tried The Lunchbox, a new sandwich bar that had opened in our absence and there in the refridgerated cabinet were 3 golden, flakey nuggets- PIE! Needless to say we bought them all up, pocketed a menu and enquired about delivery- the occasional hot pie for lunch would make a welcome change from the chicken wraps M takes to school. The verdict? They were not quite as good as New Zealands best but they were definately good enough to gain a place on our it's-too-hot-too-cook-who's-up-for-takeout list.


Connie said...

Oh no! Monkey muggers!! Very sad :(

Do you consider "pie" to be meat pie meals, or dessert pies, or either? Growing up in the US, we always had meat pies (mom's were awful, but we had them anyway...), but "pie" generally means fruit pies (or other dessert. Meat or other 'meal' pies we usually call 'pot pie' ... which, admittedly, doesn't make much sense as pots aren't usually involved! I'd be more likely to use a pot to make a fruit filling than a meat filling!

Tanya said...

'Pie' in kiwi speak usually means meat although a dessert pie can be just 'pie' too. Savoury pies are eaten more often so if you just say pie it is generally understood to mean of the savoury variety which could be a vege pie (ie no meat)as well as red meat or chicken varieties. 'Fish pie' is different as doesnt have pastry and is really more a fish and mashed potato casserole. Pie, since there are so many flavours casually and generally available in NZ, is often followed or preceeded by a qualifier ie mince and cheese pie, chicken and mushroom pie, "I'll have pie, the apple one please" etc
Linguistics and etymology is so interesting-like when Americans say 'kiwi' they mean the fruit but to us just plain 'kiwi' is either the bird (coined in 1835)or someone from New Zealand (from 1918) because they are the most important (in terms of identity) and historically came first. The 'kiwi fruit' stolen from China by a kiwi was officially dubbed 'kiwi fruit' to brand the kind that they were growing in NZ and distinguish it from the kinds grown in China (known as the Chinese gooseberry in NZ) in 1925. Or how we call 'slippers' the slip on shoes worn inside having dropped the word 'house' off the term 'house slipper' sometim,e back in our colonial history. In Singapore 'slipper' refers to what we call 'jandles' (another brand as opposed to generic name that has stuck) and the Australians call 'thongs' (which for kiwis are tiny string backed knickers) and Americans call 'flip flops' which is onomatopoeic!
That could have been a post! I hope you guys are all well Connie :)

Connie said...

We're doing great. On vacation with family now, before heading out overseas again next month :) I haven't been blogging much this summer, shame on me, but I've been distracted! (in a good way).

I am not actually much of a pie person. Casseroles either. Either mom ruined me for life, or I just really prefer separate tastes and textures. Saying that, when I do get a GOOD pie, I can truly appreciate it. I hardly ever cook them though, so my hubby is usually pie-deprived.

I always enjoy learning how language is used and misused depending on where you are! What you call soda/pop/cokes/fizzy drinks is a good indicator of where you grew up in the US. And I bug my husband by sometimes using 'pocket book' for purse/handbag - it's one of the few indicators of my Southern upbringing!