Published by Editor on Wed, 26/02/2014 - 8:36am
New Zealand cuisine is influenced by the availability of local ingredients and its seasonal variations. It is an island nation and local food is of a high quality sourced from both land and sea. Historical influences came from Māori culture. When Māori (New Zealand's indigenous people) first arrived in New Zealand from tropical Polynesia, they brought with them a number of food plants, including kūmara (sweet potato), taro and tī plants. New Zealand food now includes a diverse mix of British-based cuisine, with Mediterranean and Pacific Rim influences.
This blend of influences has created a mouth-watering range of flavours and food in cafes and restaurants nationwide. For dishes that have a distinctly New Zealand style, there's lamb, pork and cervena (venison), salmon, crayfish (lobster), Bluff oysters, whitebait, paua (abalone), mussels, scallops, pipis and tuatua (both are types of New Zealand shellfish), kumara (sweet potato), kiwifruit, tamarillo and pavlova, the national dessert.
In New Zealand households, dinner (also known as "tea") is the main meal of the day, when families gather and share their evening together. Restaurants and takeaways provide an increasing proportion of the diet. The distinctiveness of their cuisine is more in the way they eat, generally preferring as relaxed and unaffected as possible.
No trip to New Zealand is complete without a delicious hangi. Hangi means earth oven, and is a traditional Maori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven.