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Regional Specialties l What to Eat l Wine

What To Eat

A classic New Zealand meal almost three decades ago would consist of well done roast lamb with gravy, at least three kinds of vegetables, complimented at the end with pavlova, which is a saccharine meringue concoction topped with whipped cream and sliced fruit. Wine, at that time, was not a popular drink accompaniment unless it was a canapé of medium-sweet sherry.

Now, the food scene has changed dramatically, thanks to the revelation from the urbane way of life in the great cities of Europe and the United States. Since New Zealanders are inveterate travelers, influences from these two countries have affected their attitude towards food and wine. The country offers a huge array of cuisine from around the globe. Due to its cultural diversity, many of them have brought their authentic delicacies to share with New Zealand.

New Zealand's variety and quality of fresh meat and garden produce is comparable with those of California. The surrounding seas are the source of at least 50 commercially viable varieties of fish and shellfish. The crayfish, shellfish, mussels, paua, and whitebait are exceptionally fresh and delicious. Beef is also excellent and game is profuse. Greens such as asparagus, globe artichokes, and silver beet (swiss chard) are plentiful in the country. The most succulent and waxy potatoes in the world are the kumara, which is available here in markets. Fruits are also abundant in variety - apples, tamarillos, strawberries, passionfruit, pears, boysenberries, and kiwi, New Zealand's most notable fruit. The kiwi fruit is brown and hairy on the outside but inside, the soft green flesh with black tiny seeds in a circle is extremely tasty. Kiwifruits are good for health and superb complements for cakes and desserts. Other fruits include pepinos, babacos, and prince melons.

Restaurants in New Zealand are mostly Mediterranean inspired, although it does tend to lean towards Asian influence. It may take the form of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) in mashed potatoes, tamarind dressing on chicken, or Thai sauce with rare-grilled salmon. This is called Pacific Rim cuisine and New Zealand chefs are at the vanguard of this cuisine-making, ahead of Australia and California.

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