Apart from the excellent wine, cheeses, and the common fish and chips, Kiwis have quite the array of unique and unusual foods that are definitely worth a try. During our trip to New Zealand, we tried some typical foods not found anywhere else.
In the breakfast department, similar to its neighboring vegemite, marmite is best enjoyed thinly spread over a heavily buttered toasted piece of bread. Unlike vegemite, marmite is a bit tamer in taste and is less salty, but still not that great. Another thing we did not particularly like was spaghetti on toast.
The kiwifruit, simply referred to as “kiwi”, is the slightly tart green fruit that is widely popular and easily available in many countries. However, the closely related golden kiwi, which is slightly sweeter and, as the name hints, golden in color, should also be tried as this variety is abundant in New Zealand.
Another fruit that caught our attention in the fruit isle was the kiwiano: this spiky shaped fruit that taste like a mix of cucumber, banana, and kiwi was quite unusual. After cutting it in half you can squeeze its jelly-like contents into a bowl and you can either eat it all or simply suck out the fleshy green part of it and discard the seeds. However, the seeds are perfectably edible and we actually preferred eating both the juice and seeds as it was way easier to eat. Next to the kiwiano, we found feijoas. Originally from South America, feijoas are extremely popular in New Zealand. With a sweet and sour combo taste, it tastes great eaten as is or in smoothies.
In between meals, people enjoy chocolate fish. As the name hints, the chocolate fish is a fish shaped chocolate with a chewy marshmallow-like pink center. Some people like to dunk their fish into a nice hot beverage. Similar to the chocolate fish, pineapple lumps contain a marshmallow like square center that is covered in chocolate. However, as the name hints this center is yellow and tastes like pineapple. We actually preferred these to the chocolate fish.
Although the name might be slightly misleading, the Afghan cookie is a Kiwi original. This popular biscuit consists of cornflakes mixed with cocoa and topped with a chocolate icing and a half caramelized walnut on top. Similar in taste to a brownie, this chocolaty delight goes great with a cup of coffee.
Finally, Whittaker’s peanut slab is a solid piece of milk chocolate combined with peanuts, which is quite popular throughout the country. In between meals, manuka honey is often used as a supplement. World-renowned for it’s many health benefits, this honey is proudly advertised throughout the country. It’s quite pricy, however definitely worth a try.
For dinner, Kiwis surely love their fish and chips. Not surprisingly, given that the country used to be a colony of the United Kingdom. The fish was usually hoki and quite delicious when cooked fresh. Fish and chips are pretty much available at every restaurant. Kumara, the sweet potato is also very popular in New Zealand and is offered in most restaurants in the form of fries and in supermarkets in the form of fries as well as chips.
Lambs play an important role in the New Zealand’s massive wool industry. With plenty of room to roam and a healthy natural diet, its meat is quite tasty as well. We sampled a lamb shoulder from Pedro’s House of Lamb, which was cheap, delicious, and super tender. Another popular meat is venison. This tastes a bit like beef mixed with a bit of lamb. Best eaten medium-rare, the fjord venison is tender and packed with flavor.
New Zealand mussels are referred to as green-lipped mussels due to their unique bright green color lining the edges of the mussel. These tasty mussels can be bought fresh at the supermarket as well as show up on most New Zealand menus. They are definitely worth a try!
Often, a meal is accompanied by L&P, a popular New Zealand beverage. It resembles sparking lemonade, somewhat similar to Mountain Dew, and its presence is huge in New Zealand.
For desert, the country offers a variety of different ice creams. Fun to say and even more fun to eat, Hokey Pokey ice cream is a delicious vanilla ice cream mixed in with crunchy honeycomb toffee. Hokey Pokey is so popular, it can also be found as a topper or in chocolate.
Real fruit ice cream is widely advertised in New Zealand. We chose to try the strawberry variety, which basically consists of frozen strawberries mixed in with vanilla ice cream in a special blending machine. The outcome is a perfectly mixed soft-serve looking ice cream cone.
Finally, New Zealand is a big player in the wine industry. We found that white wines had a stronger presence, with the Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay producing great Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc. In terms of red wine, we found that Pinot Noirs were heavily emphasized. The Otago region in particular produces what we thought to be excellent Pinot Noirs.
We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.Read Mark & Herta’s full story.