FOOD IN NEW ZEALAND

Now that we are not in New Zealand any more we have time to write some posts in retrospective. One of these topics is food in New Zealand. Especially we want to point out some differences to Food in Germany.

Breakfast

When we got our camper van we went into a supermarket to stock up our food for the first days. The first mission was to find breakfast: Bread, cheese and some meat/sausages. A typical German breakfast I would say.
While I do know that in Germany the range of bread is pretty wide and this is not typical in the rest of the world, I was still surprised to see such a different variety of bread. Whereas there is no other flour used as wheat and even sour dough is considered a “speciality”, the options for toast is stunning. At least three big brands provide each six to nine different flavours (“dutch”, “flax seed” …) and in addition the own brands of the supermarket add even more to the mix. So while the variety in flour is non existing and bread all in all looks the same, toast is available in a wide spectrum and the kinds I sampled were very good.

After deciding in bread, we went on to the cheese section. And boy they have a lot of cheese. Sold in 1 KG unit there is “Edam”, “Mild”, “Tasty” and “Colby”. Period. “Mild” and “Tasty” are varieties of cheddar. “Colby” on the other hand we didn’t know. Looking it up, we found out: It’s a special version of cheddar. So three kinds of cheddar, and “Edam”. Again this is not what I expected. Obviously there are more kinds of cheese available, yet they are not sold in these amounts as well as very expensive. Also I have to say that the main kind of cheese mentioned tasted all not very intense.
On the other side this is what we saw in supermarkets (where we mainly went to shopping). When we had the opportunity (on markets or our visit of the Whitestone Cheese Factory in Oamaru) we were entirly sold. The cheese produced and sold in these smaller shops (and manufactures) is tasty and really good. It’s just the variety in the supermarket that isn’t very expressive (for us).
Going on with meat/sausage for the breakfast (“Aufschnitt” in German) we were utterly disappointed. There are 2 kinds of salami in the specialities booth and something called “luncheon” in different flavours. Flavour being the correct term, as this is something like Spam (“Frühstücksfleisch”) with different flavours (Chicken+Ham, Ham and much more). Luncheon tastes ok but you do not want to read the ingridients (the same is true for sausages for BBQ, see image). To be fair, most supermarkets have good choices for shaved ham in different variations.
More food “oddities” (from a German perspective) include:
  • Fresh Greenlip mussels with water spray
  • Whole, half and quarter chicken, hot and ready to eat in the supermarket
  • Crushed Garlic in 1 KG jar
  • Mint Sauce (it is after all a very British country)
  • Eggs Benedict (poached eggs on toast, with sauce hollandaise) (Thanks Dominika for the tip!)
  • Gammon Steak (Ham with egg and pineapple)

Vegetables

A word about vegetables (“veges”) here. Overall the offer is pretty similar to Germany. Tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, you name it. Notable differences regard avocados (“avos”), beetroot and cauliflower. Avocados are grown in New Zealand (especially on the north Island) and you can have cheap avos almost everywhere. If you drive along the rural areas you’ll find boxes with avos (and other veges) from the orchards which you can take for a small fee. Long story short: We had a lot of guacamole while we’ve been here.
Beetroot is more prominent here than in Germany. It is present on burgers (perfect combinations) as relish, pickled and countless other variations in the supermarkets. There seems to be many recipes with beetroot here in New Zealand.
Finally I’ve never seen purple cauliflower before. We used it just as a “normal” white cauliflower for a dish and were surprised positively: The pot liquid tasted like we had added red wine to the dish! Tip: If you have the opportunity to buy purple cauliflower, try not to boil it but to prepare it with the other vegetables. The purple pigment (and the red wine taste?) is water soluble and will be extracted in the cooking water.  Maybe reducing the cooking water for a jus is also possible.

Manuka Honey

A speciality of New Zealand (and Australia), hardly found in the rest of the world is “Manuka Honey”. “Manuka” is the Maori name of the Teatree or “Teebaum” in German. The Honey is made (more or less) exclusively from the blossom of this tree. It is said to have good effects on your health, based on the concentration of the active ingredient even for harsh conditions. Unfortunately does this honey have a very distinctive smell of Teatree extract (Teebaum-Öl) and we only took the least concentration of the active ingredient. Bottom line: Manuka honey smells a bit odd, but is good for your health, they say.

Kumara

Something we’ve never heard about before and only learned about here is “Kumara”. Kumaras are a kind of Sweet-Potato, but without being sweet but nutty. We prepared them like “normal” potatoes and they are delicious. Having the starchy consistency of the sweet potatoes without the sweet taste, they put a nice twist in basically all potato dishes. You have to try them!

Going out

It seems that a high percentage of the New Zealand tourists are Chinese. An effect of this distribution are really good Chinese restaurants. I’ve never been to China and therefore can’t say if the food tastes like it does in China. Yet when I compare the Chinese restaurants here with the ones in Germany, the New Zealand restaurant win by a mile. Both of the Chinese restaurants we ate at had very good food and lots of Chinese guests. Even the “simple” fried rice with egg and beef we had at one restaurant was incredible. After these two visits I completely changed my opinion about Chinese food. Maybe I will have the opportunity to have “real” Chinese food at some time.
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