Lamingtons are a sponge cake, coated in rasberry or chocolate and then sprinkled with shaved coconut. It’s common to cut them in half and fill them with cream or jam, but in most cases it’s simply eaten as is. A very popular snack enjoyed during morning or afternoon tea.
I still remember back when I was in primary (elementary) school, we would all arrive on Friday mornings with our precious $1 coins clasped between our palms. This, of course, was for Sausage Sizzle Friday, a weekly lunch event where the school would fundraise by selling stumpy pork sausages in pieces of fresh bread, lathered with tomato sauce and if you were lucky, a handful of grilled onions.
While the name might suggest a Middle Eastern origin, make no mistake – this cookie is 100% a Kiwi original. A classic recipe afghan consists of a chocolate cookie baked with cornflakes mixed in, coated with chocolate icing and then finished off with half a walnut on top. It has quite a unique texture as it’s both crunchy and smooth, and despite all the chocolate it’s not actually as sweet as you might expect. Looking at the picture it might seem like just a regular chocolate cookie, but most Kiwis will easily be able to tell an afghan from the very first bite.
Tuatua are an indigenous New Zealand shellfish that you won’t find anywhere else in the world (as far as I know). While very similar in shape and size to pipis, tuatuas have a milder flavour than most shellfish and a softer, creamier texture as well. As New Zealand is an island country the vast amount of shoreline means we are spoiled with shellfish, and the native Maori are said to have enjoyed this one quite a bit back in the day.
I still remember my first hāngi. I was around 7 years old, and was at school one morning watching a couple of guys dig a massive hole in the middle of our sports field. Later they lowered in some baskets of food, sitting them on top of hot rocks, and then filled the hole in burying our food beneath the ground. The food slowly cooked over the course of the day, and when lunchtime rolled around I was treated to my first hāngi meal: chicken, pork, potatoes, pumpkin and a few other veges, all cooked beneath the soccer field we used to play on each day.
I know absolutely nothing about this dish, other than the fact that Kiwis like it (somehow it has eluded me for the last 28 years). It was described to me as a “Christmas cake without the fruit” and it’s usually drenched in custard, milk, ice cream, or all three at once. Of course I didn’t know this when I tried it, so like an idiot (as you can see in the photo) I just ate it plain like a muffin or a cake.
Every kid’s birthday party in New Zealand will have three things: potato chips, cheerios and fairy bread. This party treat is made by sprinkling hundreds-and-thousands (you might better know them as ‘sprinkles’ or ‘jimmies’), over a slice of buttered bread and then cutting them into triangles. It’s also worth noting hundreds-and-thousands are not just any type of sprinkle; they refer specifically to the tiny rainbow-coloured spheres (as opposed to the many other shapes and colours available).
Mince & cheese pie
Every time I eat a mince and cheese pie it instantly brings back memories of the rainy days at high school, rushing to the tuck shop (school canteen) at lunchtime to warm the senses with a steaming hot pie. And of course, like every Kiwi kid I have memories of hurriedly biting into the pastry and having the scorching mince leave a little burn on my lip as I impatiently gobbled it down.
Whitebait is a delicacy in New Zealand and currently demands the highest price of any fish in the country. The preferred method of cooking is the whitebait fritter; a simple combination of eggs, flour and whitebait, fried like an omelette and then topped with lemon, salt and pepper.
Down at the bottom of New Zealand lies the small town of Bluff, world famous for it’s rich, succulent oysters, which are often considered the best on the planet.
Boil-ups are particularly popular in Maori communities in NZ and are cooked by boiling different ingredients together like a soup, usually with a pork base. Popular ingredients are pumpkin, potatoes, pork and watercress. It’s also common to add Maori style dumplings, known as ‘doughboys’ into the mix.
Fried bread is another treat very popular within Maori circles, in fact I’d never even heard of it before until I went down to Rotorua looking for it. Whether you partner them with a soup or stew or just lather them with butter and jam, these things will make your stomach very happy indeed.
While lamb is enjoyed all over the world, you won’t find them much cheaper or fresher than you will down in New Zealand. Every eatery will have their own offerings of lamb chops, lamb steaks, lamb racks and lamb burgers, and you owe it to yourself to try all of them while you’re on our shores.
Hokey Pokey ice cream
Hokey pokey is one of the most popular ice cream flavours in the country; a timeless combination of hokey pokey (honeycomb) balls and rich vanilla ice cream.