Here’s Why Alton Brown is Ready to Move to NZ
American culinary expert and television personality Alton Brown travelled to New Zealand with a day’s notice for experiential travel magazine AFAR where he discovered he loved making friends as much as he loved eating the food.
Brown was set the task of only eating at establishments recommended by total strangers.
“Since I am a notorious loner with a tendency to travel like a ghost, this will force me to interact with the local population using the universal language of food,” Brown writes.
A taxi driver recommends dumplings.
“He drops me at his favourite Chinese noodle place, where a few minutes later I face a dozen steamed pork and onion dumplings. That’s the smallest order they offer at Barilla Dumpling, which is as known for its grumpy and unhelpful staff (who revel in their inability to speak a lick of English) as it is for its dumplings. I learn this from the young couple at the next table, who offer to rescue me from culinary monotony by trading me some of their pot stickers. I accept, and pretty soon they’re talking up a storm with A TOTAL STRANGER! AND DID I MENTION WE’RE ALSO SHARING FOOD? I learn about their family, their teaching jobs, and how the multicultural neighbourhood has changed as young people continue to move in. They ask questions and actually seem interested in my replies. We laugh and never once look at our phones, even to Instagram the dumplings. When the couple leaves for their date night at the cinema … I miss them.”
“I’ve never travelled so far, to a place I knew nothing about, to spend such a short time. All I know for sure is that I want to come back. In fact, I could live here. I want to be a Kiwi. Or at least an honorary one. Do I recommend the journey? Fervently. But don’t go to New Zealand for the food (which is great) or the coffee (unparalleled) or the landscape (breathtaking) or the sheep (innumerable). Go to New Zealand for the people. They may look like you and me and sound like the BBC, but if you ask me, they live in a parallel universe. Maybe it’s because they are out there in the Pacific all alone. But whatever the reason, Kiwis are better mannered than Americans, friendlier than Americans, and more respectful than Americans. So go when you can, and meet the kind of people that we could be if we set our minds to it.”
Original article by Alton Brown, AFAR, July/August 2017.