Homegrown Banana - Epic Kai Time

by - Sunday, October 02, 2011

currently: cosy in bed :)

Oh New Zealand :) I love your food, and how I can pick a meal from so many cultures, just on Queen Street. This post is dedicated to you, you overpopulated food eatery. See it in Debate Issue 22.

Homegrown Banana #5 – Epic Kai Time

This year, I went on a nice holiday to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Food is of massive importance to that country, and the extended family I have there are prone to eat a lot of good food (emphasis on a lot). My cousin wanted to do a comparison between our countries, so he asked me what’s good to eat in New Zealand. I managed to name a few things off the top of my head.
“Well in New Zealand, you can get New Zealand lamb and beef, good milk, great ice cream, and pineapple lumps, which are chocolates with this chewy pineapple centre,” I told him.
He cringed at the thought of Pineapple Lumps. “Okay, but what is the best New Zealand dish?”
I didn’t know how to answer that one.

New Zealand does not seem to have an actual iconic meal. People say New Zealand is known for their fish and chips, meat pies, and sausage sizzles. But they’re not distinctively New Zealand dishes; Australia and England have the exact same thing. But that isn’t stopping some food joints from creating their own “Kiwi food” to sell to the tourists here for the Rugby World Cup. McDonalds, for example, has been marketing their “Kiwi Menu” everywhere, which includes bringing back the Kiwiburger, and creating new products like the Kiwi Brekkie McMuffin, Kiwi Pav, and Frozen L&P.

My friend and I were curious to give the Kiwi Brekkie McMuffins a try one morning at the new Britomart McDonalds (which I too feel it’s unnecessary to have when there’s a Maccas opposite the street inside Westfield, but I digress). We opened up our Kiwi Brekkie McMuffins and looked at the oozing tomato relish on top of the potato rosti (a glorified hash brown) and the bacon strips hanging out underneath the egg and sausage patty. Though it was decent tasting, we failed to see what made it so Kiwi when it was a priced up Massive McMuffin with a hash brown. The “Kiwi Pav” wasn’t much better; it was more like lime jelly on top of soft serve, with a small squishy bit of pav underneath.

McDonalds is not the only one with mini pavlovas and beetroot in burgers. Wendy’s too have their own Kiwi menu they’ve labelled the “Tight Five.” This meal consists of their own burger with beetroot and egg, sweet potato chips, pav, a hokey pokey shake and a soft drink (which sounds like a massive meal, but the pictures could make their sizes deceptive).Though it sounds more creative than the Maccas menu, I’m unsure whether I’d want to order fast-food versions of our culture’s cuisine. (However, if anyone wants to buy me lunch there so we can give it a try, I will not say no.)

I don’t know whether to call it a clever or deceptive move to create these “Kiwi Menus” especially for World Cup. The fact is that tourists (whose knowledge of this country probably stretches from All Black hakas to Lord of the Rings) will be more swayed to buy up any product labelled with “Kiwi” or “New Zealand” if that’s what they think all us locals do. I can’t necessarily agree though, I find that at university I’ve taken more trips to eat sushi and Burger King than I have to go eat a roast lamb meal in my lifetime.

So what are we meant to feed tourists then? Well, again I don’t have an answer for that, unless someone wants to build a big hangi pit in The Cloud, or make the country’s largest chocolate fish. But it would just be nice to know that there’s some good Kiwi food out there for the tourists to enjoy, whether it’s a good meat pie, or a slice of lolly cake. I’m sure New Zealand could offer more than a squishy excuse for a pav.

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