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Eating Habits
in New Zealand

 The typical kiwi food is like venomous snakes in New Zealand, it simply doesn’t exist. The closest thing we can think of is the Maori Hangi, where meat and vegetables are cooked under the earth with red-hot rocks. Maybe we could mention the Pavlova, but this desert originated in Australia. All of the Kiwi dishes made at home came from the “Edmonds Cookery Book”. It became a bible in the kitchen, and it was one of the biggest selling books in New Zealand. For that reason it is of no surprise that if you eat at the houses of many different kiwis you might find that the dishes are similar using similar ingredients and seasonings. Its happened to me of being invited to a house for dinner one week, and another the next week, and eating the same exact meal that being chicken with potatoes, and both meals had the exact same taste (or better saying, no taste).  But of course politely I said that the meal was very delicious.

On the other hand, try to offer a typical meal that you have prepared to the kiwi, and see the reaction. The adults will have a taste, and they will say it is delicious, out of common courtesy (or maybe they do actually really enjoy it). The Kids will look at it funny, some will try it, the house cat might give it a lick, then its head and go back to sleep. But the real test to see if they like it or not is if the cat asks for the recipe. To ask for the recipe of the dish a Kiwi has prepared, is the ultimate compliment and a sign that you have enjoyed the meal. The Kiwi does use salt in the kitchen but not much at all. Garlic is not used in abundance. And capsicum or peppers is considered hard to digest. Instead of seasonings such as garlic, pepper, salt etc.. The kiwi prefers to use sauce (especially tomato sauce) to give taste to their meals.  So if you are making a dish for them, forget to get into sophisticated and bring out the ketchup or tomato sauce, even if the meal doesn’t ask for it. A big problem that we found with the sauces is that they are or too sweet or they have too much vinegar. Even mayonnaise (except for Hellman’s traditional) has a little too much vinager for our taste. Another sauce that is also commonly used (especially for meat) is barbeque sauce. This sauce is supposed to have the taste of a barbeque (however that could be put in a bottle) and are normally sweet and sometimes smoked flavoured.

One traditional dish in the Kiwi cuisine is the Roast, normally lamb, with roast potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potato. This meal makes even the house cat shake its tail, and the kids to shut their mouths (or open them). It is traditionally served with a mint sauce. (In my point of view, the mint sauce taste as good as an opened beer left out of the fridge for one week). Its made out of Mint, vinegar and sugar, and is a sauce which was used by English mums because they believed it took out the bad smell that the lamb meat had in the past. I prefer 1000 times more the beautiful natural smell of lamb than this terrible sauce. Another dish that is made almost exactly the same by all kiwi families is the traditional kiwi salad. This salad consists of Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumber, and beetroot. This salad is normally served as a side dish. If at least once a week a Kiwi does not go to the Fish & Chip shop, you can be certain that that person is very sic or not a true Kiwi. The elderly by doctor’s advice, may just stick to the roast lamb with mint sauce, but families and I guess most of the population… love it. The Fish & Chips is nothing more than battered or crumbed fish, deep fried in oil that only god knows how long its been sitting there for, and served with chips (French fries). It not the healthiest meal in the world, but I admit that it is pretty good, and it a national favourite. After they have been fried they are wrapped in absorbent paper, and then wrapped again in newspaper to keep the heat in. The super sauce or the tomato sauce, is then used to complement the meal. Roast chicken with coleslaw is another favourite among the Kiwi. Although New Zealand produces excellent seafood, it is not really favoured by the general population, except the fish fillet served with mash potatoes, and the super sauce of course. Kiwis have very simple eating habits, and depending on the city you are staying at, nothing much will change except maybe eating times.

The famous meat pie

Fish n' Chips

Kiwis have very simple eating habits, and depending on the city you are staying at, nothing much will change except maybe eating times, or the names that you refer to a certain meal.

  •  If you meet a Kiwi and they invite you for “Tea”, smile and ask what time. Don’t be surprised if they say 6pm, and also that there will be tea and biscuits waiting for you. In the Kiwi dictionary, “Tea” also means dinner (or informal dinner). If a Kiwi invites you for dinner then you should find out how formal. Being invited for tea means the beginning of a friendship, or the continuing of it.

  • "Smoko" comes from smoking (a cigarette), and is a break during work, or more specifically 2 of them. One at 10:30am and another at 3 pm. They are short 15 minute breaks. Today many used this short break to grab a quick snack, and for a quick ciggy. Smoko vans are vans which have been adapted to serve food and drinks to workers at their work place, during smoko times.

The Kiwis are increasingly becoming more sophisticated in terms of food and in the variety of cuisines. Immigration, mixed marriages, and even the internet, in our opinion, have been the biggest factor for this change. Our tip is: be open-minded about new tastes and maybe even buy the classic New Zealand Cookbook as a souvenir. 

  Read more about food in New Zealand...


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