Cookbook:Cuisine of New Zealand
Characteristics & influences
New Zealand cuisine is characterised by its freshness and diversity. Diversity is owed to its relative youth, in world terms, which brings a willingness to experiment with food. Freshness is owed to its surrounding ocean and fertile lands. Its distinctiveness is more in the way New Zealanders eat - generally preferring as relaxed and unaffected as possible.
New Zealand’s cuisine has been described as Pacific Rim, drawing inspiration from Europe, Asia, Polynesia and its indigenous people, the Maori. For dishes that have a distinctly New Zealand style, there’s lamb, pork and cervena (venison), salmon, crayfish (lobster), Bluff oysters, paua (abalone), mussels, scallops, pipis and tuatua (both are types of New Zealand shellfish); kumara (sweet potato); kiwifruit, tamarillo and feijoa; and pavlova, the national dessert.
Perhaps even better known than New Zealand lamb, mussels and other foods are the country’s wines. There are 10 major wine-producing areas in New Zealand, with Marlborough famed for its sauvignon blanc, Gisborne for its chardonnay, and Central Otago and Martinborough building a reputation for pinot noir and pinot gris. Hawke’s Bay is known for its bold cabernets and Auckland’s Waiheke Island is home to one of the top 20 cabernet blends in the world. Marlborough and Hawke's Bay are New Zealand’s two premium wine-growing regions.
Casual Kiwi cuisine
The New Zealand summer sees many eat outdoors, often in a barbecue setting. Kiwi barbecues - featuring New Zealand beef, lamb and seafood - are a big part of the culture, and typify the laid-back nature of the New Zealand people.
A Maori specialty is the hangi (pronounced hung-ee), a pit in which meats or fish are cooked with vegetables. A deep hole is dug in the ground, lined with red-hot stones and covered with vegetation. The food is then placed on top. The whole oven is sprinkled with water and sealed with more vegetation. The hole is then filled with earth and left to steam for several hours. Traditionally, men dig and prepare the hole, and women prepare the food to go in it. All members of an extended family (whanau) help out for such a feast. The occasion is relaxed, friendly and fun, with people often eating the meal under a marquee.
New Zealand cuisine experience is incomplete without enjoying traditional fish and chips served wrapped in paper.
New Zealand dishes include:
- Pavlova (a light and fluffy meringue dessert named after the ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova)
- Lamingtons (a type of sponge cake (or more traditionally, butter cake) squares, coated in a layer of chocolate icing or strawberry jam, then desiccated coconut)
- Anzac biscuits