World Palate Series – New Zealand
New Zealand food is driven by seasonal vegetables/ ingredients, climate, and historic or cultural influences. Two distinctly different races, the Maori or Pacific Rim Polynesians and the immigrant Europeans live here. Thus cuisines are diverse too.
The indigenous Maori traditionally cook in an earth-dug pit called Hangi, or prefer boiling /steaming in natural hot springs, as they have done over 1000 years ago. Roast meat, fish, Kumara or sweet potatoes are earth-baked and eaten with wild herbs. Sea food forms an essential part of diet for this sea faring warrior people.
The European or Pakeha immigrants diet consists of: wheat bread, fresh salads, roast lamb flavoured with rosemary and thyme herbs, sea food like Mussels. This would make for a great Sunday lunch. Wine growing is an important industry. Famous New Zealand wines are the fruity, acidic Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay and a full-bodied Canterbury grown Pinot Noir. For a sweet tooth, it’s the traditional Pavlova , a meringue. New Zealand’s ice creams are dairy rich and wholesome, my favourites are Hokey Pokey, Caramel and Boysnberry Ripple. Licking lips already ?
The Edmonds Cookery Book has been part of almost every New Zealand home, the first published edition was in 1908! The 50 page booklet had tips and everyday recipes for housewives. Newly married couples would even be given a complimentary copy! I remember my friend making yummy, rich chocolate brownies and almond biscuits with Edmond’s baking flour.
During winter, a bowl of warm, fresh soup served with multi-grain bread makes a healthy and inviting meal. During my college years in Christchurch, the student canteen regularly served a variety of winter soups for a lunch menu. Here is my favourite one.
500 grams yellow squash or pumpkin, skinned
1 large onion
2 tbs. leftover cooked rice
2 tbs. butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste
2 Bay leaves
3-4 roasted cashew nuts
4 cups water (or chicken broth)
Parsley or coriander for garnish
Microwave the pumpkin for 1 minute, it’s now easy to remove the skin. Cut pumpkin, carrot and onion into medium-sized pieces. In a large deep pot, warm the butter. Add the onion first and lightly saute, do not let it brown. Add remaining vegetables, rice, cashews and water/broth. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bay leaves and cover slightly to infuse the aroma. Allow to cool. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and process the soup mixture through a mixer /blender.
Adjust the consistency of soup with water. Pour into a deep pot. Warm on stove, do not boil. Check the taste and adjust. Ladle heaped spoonfuls into bowls. Garnish with parsley, pepper powder, some pumpkin seeds or chopped cashews. Serve warm. Ideally served with multi-grain bread and plenty of butter/cream. Remember, during winter one needs extra calories !
A Maori proverb: Naku te rourou nau, te rourou ka ora ai te iwi
which translates as:With your basket and my basket the people will live
So don’t forget to share your food (and recipes). That is the community spirit !
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