Like their Aussie neighbors, New Zealand has a very rich and unique history that is reflected in the everyday lives of its citizens, right down to the food they eat. Most of their native dishes can be traced back to the indigenous population, but with some European influence sprinkled in. They are entirely unique in their own right and fully embody the delightful quirkiness of Kiwis. Below are some of the most outlandish things New Zealanders like to eat.
1. Lolly Cake
Lolly cake is a popular treat among both children and adults alike. It’s not exactly a cake per se, but more of a fudge-like unbaked slice. Not only is it delicious, but it’s pretty easy to make as well. You can even get the kids involved. First, you crush some plain malt biscuits and chop up some kiwi lolly. Then you mix those two with melted butter and condensed milk. Once done, you shape it into a log, then roll that in grated coconut. Pop it into the fridge until hardened and voila! You’ve got yourself a lolly cake.
Paua (pa-wa) is a large, marine, snail-like gastropod, more commonly referred to as abalone. This shellfish is often sought out for its brightly colored iridescent shell for both jewelry-making and as souvenirs. But the real delicacy comes from the large black muscular foot of the paua, which may not be a favorite of most non-New Zealanders due to its particularly strong flavor. Some people say it’s more like a steak than a shellfish and it can be very tough and rubbery if cooked incorrectly. As a result, paua is usually served minced, finely sliced or cooked in a fritter.
3. Whitebait Fritters
Whitebaits are small juvenile fish of the family Galaxiidae and a real delicacy in New Zealand cuisine. The crazy part is that they’re eaten whole: skin, bones, heads and innards – nothing’s left behind. The best way to do this is in a whitebait fritter, which is basically a light omelet mixture to keep the fish from falling apart. This fritter is often served between buttered slices of soft fresh white bread with some lemon wedges on the side.
4. Cheese Rolls
This is basically the New Zealand version of sushi, which is why it’s commonly referred to as “southern sushi.” The earliest known recipe for cheese roll dates back to the 1930s, and it was especially popular in the South Island, particularly the “deep south” of the country. It consists of a crispy and crunchy outer layer with a soft and gooey filling that is bursting with flavor. A good cheese roll goes well with a bowl of soup, especially on a cold day.
The pavlova’s origin has been a source of debate between New Zealanders and Australians for many years. It is believed that the dessert was named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who frequented New Zealand during her tours in the 1920s. A pavlova is a sort of oversized meringue with a crisp and crunchy crust, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit like strawberries and kiwis. But unlike a meringue, it has a soft and fluffy, almost marshmallow-like filling on the inside. It is a very common Christmas dessert, though it can be eaten during any time of the year.
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