Everyday Ordinary Things

OK, so not much has happened this week.  We had a quiet weekend in which the highlight was having NZ friends Martin and Teresa over for a BBQ on Saturday, sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful (much cooler) weather.

Having said that, I thought I'd blog about the ordinary things that make life here in Canada different from life in NZ.  Not sure I can come up with much but I'll see what I can do.

Firstly, the supermarket.  Supermarkets here aren't any bigger here than in NZ which surprised me.  The contents is quite different though.  The first section you meet is the fruit and veg, just like NZ but the difference here is the variety.  There are many weird fruits and vegetables I've never heard of and they come from all different parts of the World.  For example yesterday I bought Clementines (like Mandarins) from Spain and Limes from Argentina.  Most of the produce, if not from Ontario, is from USA or Mexico which makes sense considering they can grow it all year round and we can't.

I guess the second thing to notice is that there is a huge amount of food in boxes.  There are isles full of ready made meals that come in a box.  I personally don't understand how a complete meal can come in a box but that's a whole other story.

There is an "ethnic" isle which in itself isn't strange because we have those types of isles in NZ.  What is different is where the foods come from.  Not so much of the Indian or Asian as in NZ but food from European countries (eg Poland). You can buy 10kg sacks of Roti flour though.

There is very little in the way of baking needs.  Why would you need to buy ingredients when you can buy cookie dough in a can!  Can't understand that either!

I guess the biggest difference is in the meat section.  You ask the butcher for the exact amount you need and they weigh it, put it in a plastic bag then wrap it in brown paper.  You can order in either pounds or grams/kilos but most people look at me funny when I ask for grams.  Also, mince is called ground beef/pork - I find this one very hard and they have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about when I ask for mince.  Add to that the fact that most of the people behind the counter don't speak very good English and they can't understand my accent and it's confusion all around.

You also have a similar situation for baked goods, eg cupcakes.  They are displayed beautifully behind a glass counter and you ask for what you want - even for me, this is hard to resist.

So that's the supermarket.

Other things - power here is called hydro so you get your "hydro" bill instead of your power bill.  Gas is still called gas which means you don't call petrol gas because they think you're talking about your home heating.

I've blogged about this before but you can put anything and everything out on the curb on rubbish (whoops I mean garbage) day.  Just to prove this I've included a photo of a lovely antique couch which was outside my neighbour's house yesterday.  They hiff it up into the rubbish truck and it gobbles it up.  It's quite sad really to see some very useful stuff going into the truck.  I'm sure some young person in their first apartment would kill for a couch like this one.

Shops don't open until 10am.  Very frustrating when you drop your child off at school at 8.45am and want to get your shopping out of the way.  It's a good excuse to go and sit in Starbucks for an hour and slowly sip a hot chocolate, I guess but if you're wanting to get things done and dusted, very annoying.

Swimming pools also are not open all day.  The indoor pools are only open for lane swimming 6-8am and then usually for an hour at lunch time and 6-8pm.  None of these times fits with my schedule so I've given up swimming (for now).  The outdoor pools are open now until September (although all but one Mississauga pool is in renovation until summer 2011 so no-one in Mississauga is swimming).  The don't open until lunchtime and then there are restrictions on what you do, eg family leisure is when teenagers can't go and family swim is when they can.  The pool we use is closed between 5-6pm and reopens at 6pm until 8.30pm.  Almost all the women wear bikinis no matter what size or shape.

BBQs do not have hotplates.  Yes, very difficult to cook a lentil burger on a rack but that's how it's done here.  Also BBQs generally consist of sausages (the pre-cooked hot dog kind) and meat patties.  

When you go to visit someone, especially for dinner, you are "obliged" to bring a gift.  I've only recently discovered this so I've been very rude to anyone who invited me anywhere.  I wondered why I was always getting flowers from my guests.

Ok, that's all I can think of for now.  I might write more on this subject at a later date.  Have a fantastic week.



Carol Karl

July 13, 2010