I must be growing again, because lately, I’ve been hungry. Very hungry. Maybe it is because my body is constantly working to keep up with the hills, but whatever the reason, I need some good fix’n’s to satiate my hunger, to slake my thirst, to stop mah belleh from a’grumblin. Luckily, this was a very productive week in the food department.
Roti chenai. Some new kiwi friends of mine took me to a place called Satay Kingdom with high praise for the roti chenai. I didn’t know what it was, and they didn’t really know either, but that didn’t seem to matter to any of us. Off the main drag of Cuba Street (lots of bars and restaurants), sat this little restaurant that was certainly lacking in presentation. The outside dining area was a tarp strung up with a few plastic tables beneath it, surrounded by pigeons and the inevitable caca de pigeon. After awkwardly placing the order with the older Malaysian lady at the register, we waited. Not a long wait, though, before the orange-ish colored soup and heaping pile of bread was ready. I was told it was best not to ask what was in the soup, but sweet goodness it didn’t matter what was in it. It was absolutely delicious. I followed suit and dipped the bread (I think that was the roti part) and soaked up the deliciousness as best I could. We positively inhaled the meal. Cheap. Satisfying. Mysterious. Delicious. Pretty much the perfect recipe for an adventure of any kind.
Lollies. AKA: candy. Sometimes, I get a real jones for some sweets. Sometimes, NZ introduces me to delicious sweets that makes me ask one question, “How do I get that goodness in me?” Pineapple lumps. Little gummy bits of pineapple covered in chocolate. I do not think actual pineapple juice is used in the process of making them, but they still taste like what I imagine a real pineapple might taste like if it were squeezed out and gummified, dipped in chocolate, and sprinkled with magic delicious pixie dust. Chocolate fish. The official currency of NZ. Pink, marshmellowy fish covered in chocolate. These guys had to grow on me, but there came a point in our relationship where I just knew that we were made to be together. Things moved pretty quickly after that when I found out that I could put two of them on a piece of peanut butter toast for a folded over piece of wonderment and delight. We’re very happy together. Chocolate fish just get me, you know? Squiggles. “HOKEY POKEY flavoured biscuit, with hokey pokey pieces and flavoured CRÉME topping, fully ENROBED in milk chocolate with YELLOW squiggles,” reads the package. I’m not one for tattoos, but if ever I were to get one, I would get that inscribed across my chest, right next to a giant rhubarb pie with the rising steam spelling out, “GMA knows best.”
Meal of champions. The same fine gentlemen that introduced me to Satay Kingdom imparted some more wisdom about a fabled meal known as the meal of champions. The recipe is simple: pasta, mince (ground beef), and Wattie’s baked beans. Prepare all in heaping proportions, combine and eat. It was a Friday night, the time was 1AM the first time I ever took part in the meal. We had talked ourselves into a feeding frenzy and the only solution was to prepare the meal of champions. Such a hearty meal, with everything nature has to offer. It is a superfood. It is filling. It is simple for anyone to prepare. Heaps of leftovers are encouraged (to be grazed upon throughout the entirety of the following week. Heaps of leftovers). This meal was the perfect pre-race meal for me, and no fewer than three subsequent post-race meals as well.
The Mt. Lowry Challenge. Not a food, but something that made me hungry as. The race was a 12k race that started at the nearby Day’s Bay. The first 4k were along the road that ran alongside the beach waterfront. Beautiful harbor. Perfect temperature, not too hot or cold. Plenty of people to get the race day spirit flowing. Then the trail turned and headed for the hills. After an initial climb, we were told that we would run along the top of the ridge until the last 1-2k where we would hit the “belly buster” and come careening downhill to the finish below. The first climb was not too bad. On par with the running I’d been doing on my own so far. I tucked into a pack with a kid my age and an old vet who resembled the spirit of a mule, or a load-bearing llama. He set the pace and up we chugged. I hope I can still climb like him when i get to be his age. At the ridge, we headed across what we assumed would be a breeze across the hill. We were mistaken. This ridge did not end. It went up and down, much like a spastic stock market graph might look if superimposed onto an elevation chart. There were times where it was impossible to run uphill, or do much more than swing from tree to tree as a brace going downhill. When we did reach the dreaded “belly buster” it was cake compared to what we had been doing the last many k’s. I managed to fall down twice, getting some nice scratch action on a leg and both butt cheeks. Nice little reminders every time I sit down. Pretty wicked race. I finished 28th overall out of 200ish people and did it in 1:21:03, but I’m not quite sure what that means never having run that distance before, or really done any kind of trail running. The closest thing I can compare it to would be running up LeConte or the Chimney trails down in Gatlinburg, TN. Still, very cool. Very fun. And it made me very hungry. Remember those leftovers I mentioned earlier? Yep, they tasted great.