Dear New Zealand,
As you know, people travel to New Zealand for your magnificent scenery and adventure sports, certainly worthy highlights, but they are not what we miss most, it’s the freekah, the labneh, the Afghans, and the Bauernbrot! It’s about your FOOD!
It’s not just what you eat, it’s the whole food culture that was such a pleasant surprise to me.
Judging by the widespread use of organic, fair trade, pasture raised, sustainable, and local products, most Kiwis seem to expect quality ingredients and care about where they come from. So many have their own gardens, and stock honor boxes in their front yards to share the bounty.
In many areas we saw beehives stacked along the roadside, and bought, or were given, local honey. And the BREAD – I was so excited to find the bakers in NZ know how to make my favorite German sourdough rye.
Where I live, the “farm to fork” movement is gaining momentum, but in NZ, it’s just a way of life, no catchy names or movements necessary. Do you realize how lucky you are??
A flat white and a slice…
I never would have thought that New Zealand would have the best espresso in the world. We became connoisseurs, sampling from one end of the country to the other, even developing favorites (the Italian style roasts at All Press & Havana). I was impressed how often we saw “fair trade” promoted, and that Havana uses their own, “Real Trade” designation to educate consumers about economic fairness and sustainability. I learned so much from you Kiwi foodies!
Aside from the espresso, the food selection in your café’s is so creative, fresh and a good value. We had real muesli, “veggie stack”, frittata, grain & kale salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And then of course we couldn’t resist the “slices” and “Afghans”. It’s refreshing to find so many places where everything is made from scratch – no bulk batters, packaged mixes, bottled dressings.
As far as I am concerned, there is only one major blemish on New Zealand’s foodie nirvana cafes – for crying out loud, how can you serve those McDonalds-style, deep-fried patties and call them hash browns? I was crushed. One chef I questioned said that they used to make real hash browns, but the Kiwis prefer the packaged ones.
My favorite breakfast of the whole trip was at a place in Golden Bay that made real potato pancakes topped with avocado, spinach, poached egg and hollandaise. I still dream about it. Maybe the esteemed district councils could outlaw the frozen hash-slabs and require real, grated potato hash browns?
I thought maybe our experience in NZ was unique – we just got really lucky and happened upon fantastic meals? But then I noticed that people who have traveled in New Zealand, always mention the food, before I get a chance. That’s when I knew I had to write, to make sure you realize that your culinary culture is special. Please, continue to appreciate the healthy options you have and protect them, don’t take them for granted. Bigger and more is not better. Pay attention, be diligent, don’t let your food supply become corrupted in the name of “advancement” and profits.
Missing New Zealand!
Julie & David