Friday, 14 October 2011

New Zealand

Having been in New Zealand for the last month or so the single most confusing thing was the food. Kiwi's don't seem to have a native cuisine. It seems to be an accumulation of things from all over the world. I guess that explains why so many Kiwi's are proponents of what was known as fusion cuisine (I'm thinking Peter Gordon and Anna Hanson). In fact, in terms of finding some where to eat, I would say it's more like England than anywhere else in the world, even down to pub menus with lamb shanks, burgers and pork belly.

One thing that is definitely Kiwi is Maori culture. Being the good little tourist I duly visited Rotorua and had my fill of Maori tradition including food.

I started off with some cord on the cob cooked in the geothermal hot water pools.

That floating silver buoy is a net filled with corncobs. Apparently the mineral content of the water brings out the flavour of the corn. I'm not so sure.

The warmth of the hot rocks is used to prepare a "hangi" which I tried at the Mitai Maori Village. A big pit in the ground is filled with meat and vegetables (including the ubiquitous kumara) then covered over and allowed to cook for 12 or more hours.

Essentially it was a roast dinner. Now don't get me wrong it was very tasty with an incredible unique smoky flavour.

I experienced a few other things of foody note whilst in NZ. I came across these Dole eco-pineapples

They have their crown removed. This allows for efficiencies in transportation (reducing carbon emmissions and costs) and also provides nutrient material for the farm in the Philippines (read more). I wonder if the appearance obsessed British consumer is ready for pineapples without crowns?

I sampled a "delight" unique to NZ: lolly cake.

Essentially it was a very soft cake (I'm not even sure it was sponge) enveloping soft sweets and dusted with dessicated coconut. It was strangely moreish although VERY sweet. I guess it's one of those cultural curiosities like Twinkies, which just don't translate from their native audience.

I also had a whitebait pancake whilst in Auckland (and yes, before you say it, I know I should really have had whitebait whilst on the east coast of the southern island). The problem here was really the ratio of pancake to fish i.e. too much package and not enough fish meant that the delicate taste of the whitebait was lost.

That was it really. Not the most gastranomic of adventures, but I feel a restricted budget held me back somewhat. Lucky the rugby was great. Oh, hang on...

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