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.