5 things to eat before you die

Originally raised by Melissa of The Travelers Lunchbox, my first thought was “What a morbid sounding idea for a theme…”. But then who am I to shirk my civic duties by listing as many “must try” foods as I can think of, after being tagged by the lovely (I assume) JenJen (see, anyone with a double name must be lovely) of “I love milk and cookies” fame (and don’t we all really).

So… to the list. Which as far as I’m concerned is not the list of foods I would eat if I were about to die, but more a collection of food experiences I think would be nice for most people to try at least once in their lives.

1) Kiwi hot dogs – Being a former Kiwi, I can think of nothing more quintessential divisive to healthy eating than the Kiwi hot dog. It’s basically a thick sausage on a stick, rolled in flour and dipped in batter, then deep fried til golden and crispy. Not happy with the level of fat and oil already present in the sausage and batter, the inventive Kiwi’s then up the ante by soaking the top half of the dog in tomato sauce (ketchup for recalcitrant Americans). I have fond memories of stuffing down several of these bad boys before collapsing onto the couch in a fat induced stupor. Incidentally they also make the list of “Things to eat that will make you die”.

2) Feijoa – Another New Zealand classic, the Feijoa, also known as Pineapple Guava or Guavasteen, is originally from South America, but has now been adopted as New Zealands own. It’s a bizarre little fruit that I can only describe as being sweet, sour, fruity, and savoury, all at the same time. Inventive Kiwi’s have turned it into smoothies, sorbets, and even vodka. In its most basic form, you can just cut it in half and scoop out the middle with a teaspoon as you would a kiwifruit. Definitely something to try.

3) Freshly Shucked Natural Oysters – This may be a good time to introduce my concept of assessing someones commitment to food. A sort of “how gourmet is gourmet” rating scale. It involves many layers of tests and I wouldn’t be the snob I am with out them. Pronouncing Riesling “Rise-ling” is one of them… as is preferring the taste of instant coffee to properly made espresso. A general aversion to any particular fruits or vegetables for no apparent reason other than “I just don’t like them” is also a big draw breaker. Towards the bottom of the list, this one comes in. Natural oysters, straight from the sea, out of the shell and into the mouth, with or without a little lemon juice or salt… are the ultimate in gourmet appreciation. You either hate them, and can’t abide the idea of a slimey thing like that slivering down your throat. Or you tremble in anticipation of the luscious feeling of freshness filling your mouth and shovel as many down as you can before anyone else gets to them.

For those in the non-oyster or cooked oyster camp… Just give it a go… at least once.

4) Lamb roast with all the trimmings – I’ve blogged previously about my love of a good lamb roast, so I’ll save the in depth explanation. Suffice to say that if you’ve never been bothered to go to the trouble of making a big home cooked meal yourself, with the stuffing, and the mint sauce, and the gravy, and the honeyed carrots, and sparkling grape juice (ok, that’s just my family), then you are really missing out on something.

5) H?ngi – A traditional Maori Hangi is something to be experienced. Common to many Polynesians cultures, but slightly different in each of them, it’s basically the process of cooking food in the earth, by digging a hole and burying the food amongst a pile of hot rocks. The food is typically meat like pork, mutton, and chicken, and vegetables like potato, pumpkin, and the all important kumara. It all gets put into baskets and wrapped in cloths that have been soaked in water, then put into the pit amongst hot rocks and covered for a few hours. There’s something very satisfying and humble about cooking in the earth, so if you ever get the chance, I’d say go for it.

That’s all I can think of for now. I know there are plenty more, but I can’t think of them at the moment. One thing I will add is that where any good food exists, great wine can only serve to highten the experience. So for all those beer drinking, wine haters out there… get off the wagon and give let your tastebuds do some work for once in your life. They’ll thank you for it later.

18 thoughts on “5 things to eat before you die”

  1. Great picks Matt, those kiwi hotdogs sound a little bit like the dagwood dogs you get at the Easter show here in Sydney. They are so addictive!
    I have also had the pleasure of being invited to a Hangi. Freshly caught fish and taro cooked in the earth, it was a beautiful experience.
    But what I am very interested in is trying the Feijioa, sounds delicious.

  2. I would never have thought to include a dagwood dog but you’re so on the money…years ago I had a brief fling with vegetarianism and found myself half way through one of those babys before I remembered that I was meant to be vego…the power of the dog

  3. Feijoa….mmmmmm

    I once encouraged a good friend to try a freshly shucked oyster and watched the poor thing spend some several minutes after slurping it up whether she should just get it over and done with and swallow or admit defeat and spit it out!

  4. I feel a strange pleasure from knowing I’ve had at least one of those things, though I wonder if that brings me closer to death.

    I may steal this to post, I’m not sure yet. Yummy…

  5. Great list, I’m off to the Cook islands for a week soon & looking forward to trying number 5 for the first time though it has a slightly different name there – Umukai feast! Sure you will hear all about it when I’m back

  6. Thanks ladies for your lovely comments.

    Deb: You can absolutely incorporate a Kiwifruit into the Kiwi hot dog… I’d suggest deep frying one, and soaking it in tomato sauce. Let me know how it turns out…please!

    JenJen & Jules: Clearly I am out of the loop when it comes to my hotdog nomenclature. I had no idea a dagwood dog was the same thing, but you’ve given me a new reason to venture back to the Royal show this year, other than sunburn, overpriced showbags, and rollercoaster induced nausea.

    Cin: You can be absolutely certain that will not happen if you offer me oysters. In fact, never offer me anything if you want to eat yourself. I have a hoover like ability to absorb food. Especially good stuff like oysters.

    Yvonne: Fortunately you haven’t tried all 5 at once, or you’d be very close to death indeed… feel free to steal all you like.

    Bea: You clearly never made it to many school tuck shops, or rugby matches then… The Kiwi hotdog is as much an institution there as the Meat pie is in Australia (although that probably doesn’t help either). Lucky you to be going back :)

    Emma: They are a tasty treat indeed. I was only introduced to them recently by my good mate Dan, and they blew my mind. So many flavours in such a great little package.

    Bron: You know you want one :) It’s got to be one of the most perfect compact meals around. Ever tried shucking an oyster while driving with your knees while you open a bottle of L&P with your teeth ?? I think not ;)

    Ange: Sounds great. Look forward to hearing all about it. Make sure you go easy on the Kava…

  7. hey matt, im thinking of getting a espresso machine but im not too sure on which one i should get. any good advices? thanks. budgets around A$2000.

  8. Matt,

    Hmmm – What wine to match with a hot dog or a Hangi?
    Oysters – no problem – can think of a page full of wine suggestions. Lamb likewise.

  9. I´m obsessed with Tonga, and had read about the burying food thing, it sounds amazing. good to know you do it in nz too, as my husband is obsessed with all things kiwi.

  10. Huey… look for other posts on this site about espresso machines, I’ll have another up soon about what to look for, but $2000 is a nice place to start from.

    Edward: Hot Dog would have to be matched with an equally dastardly wine, I’m thinking Brown Brothers Crouchon Riesling. A Hangi is a whole other deal entirely. It would be fitting to go with what has made NZ famous, a Central Otago Pinot Noir for the meat, perhaps a Felton Road if you’re feeling fancy, and for the fish and white meat… a Marlborough Sauvingnon Blanc from say… Cloudy Bay ? I think that would do quite nicely.

    Ximena (aka Ms Lobster): thanks for stopping by… Yes the Pacific Islands have a way of capturing the imagination of those of us stuck on the land. I’m sure and your husband can pool your collective resources and start digging up the nearest patch of earth to make your own all encompassing Polynesian earth oven super feast !

  11. I think if yah gonna talk Kiwi food yah cannot forget good old fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and the meat pie is just as much an institution in NZ as they are in Aussie. Everyone should be made to eat a Ponsonby Pie at least once in their lifetime.

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