...makua mea lelei a ....(... remarkably nice things ...)

Yesterday, I went to this store that sells Poly produce like taros, yams, green bananas, etc. I asked the Asian female owner: “No taros?” She said “Noh, noh d’tarloh” Do you have yams? “O, oofee?” I was both excited and impressed that she knows the Samoan word for “yam” so I said “Yes, yes ...” She said: “Ing tha pox” pointing to a cardboard box on the produce counter. So I bagged about seven average-sized tubers then got two cans of coconut milk. I had a plan in mind; though the mind was now going through a quick flashback of its own of some bygone years in Samoa. Almost independently, it was doing some culinary matchmaking - Samoan style. I could hear the words “faalifu ufi” several times but the only match that kept bouncing back was “koko Samoa”. No, I want some “mea lelei” (“nice food” - the expression bothers me every time it’s mentioned in the context of food and feasting, as if other foods are “leaga” or “faale-lelei”), besides we had “koko Samoa” at home, so I did not need any.

Meanwhile my eyes were busy scanning the shelves. And I saw some “mea lelei” - cans of pisupo, camp pies, herrings in tomato sauce, etc., My visual neurons relayed the message to the brain for approval, and the brain retorted “No!”. The brain also was almost exclusively in Samoan culinary mode - meaning, steaks, hamburgers, burritos, lasagna, etc., were all pushed to the back burner . I turned around to look at the freezers lined along the opposite wall. I started reading the labels above each one. “Lamb” says one label ..“Yes,...makua mea lelei a ..” ...I ambled over, opened the freezer and there was one huge unopened box sitting at the bottom. I turned around and asked the lady “Do you have some lamb flaps in a smaller bag?” “Yes, I huv wung more barg in da pak!” “Is it American or New Zealand?” I asked, “Nooh Seelun” she said ... “Ia, makua mea lelei a....” came the mind’s repetitive lampoon. Of course mamoe is not “mea lelei”, if it’s not from the land of the kiwi, the hongi and kupe (no, not that kupe). Now according to my taste archives, mamoe Niu Sila is long overdue for a spot in the five-year increment storage schedule, and so it’s time for some fresh NZ mamoe “flavours and savours” - - and not “flavors and savors”. ....lol!

...how does the saying go again? ...“...you can take the boy out of the country but you cannot take the country out of the boy?” ...Ia ga! ...ae maise a le kama o kaumafa, cause I can be assimilated in most other aspects of the mainstream culture but food tastes and cravings are hard to change.... ...fagusea, faisua, kuikui, fai’ai fe’e, oka and farai mamoz ...... ia makua mea leleeeeeeeei a! ...

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