Being in New Zealand is forcing me to confront all my missteps and another thing I caught a surprising amount of flack for (this time from the urban literati) was my description in Come on Shore of a particular drink I used to have in the Far North as “what passes for coffee in New Zealand.” It was a kind of powdered instant that we drank with hot water and plenty of milk and sugar. I always enjoyed it — I still do — I just didn’t think it resembled coffee very much.
Anyway, this clearly irked a segment of the NZ population, who will waste no time in telling you that the coffee served in New Zealand is the best in the world. Twenty years on (from the time I was describing) I would have to agree. We have had coffee everywhere and it has been unilaterally exceptional: huge cups of a great dark brew with beautiful foamy milk. So, clearly, that’s another line I’ll have to change in the second edition.
You know, I would never have been able to write that book if I’d been living in New Zealand — another illustration of the principle I mentioned in an earlier post about how we see things clearest at a distance. Working from memory can be exceptionally fruitful; it forces (or perhaps allows) you to tighten the focus, but, by the same token, it almost invariably has a warping effect — the natural consequence, I think, of selectivity.
Ok, enough philosophizing. I will leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the trip so far. I call it “Contemplation a deux.”