Freaky Foody’s kitchen had been closed for a while, and now it (temporary) moved to a very far land, to the southern hemisphere, to the antipodes, to Oceania or – to be more specific – to New Zeland. For how long, you might ask, well… we don’t know yet, it could be a month or more. Let’s see what Kon Tiki and the other gods have in store for us!
Finally, I’ve put my feet into the Pacific Ocean, after almost 30 years spent dreaming about James Cook´s and Darwin´s journeys and after a couple of years being obsessed by Thor Heyerdahl and his companions on board of the Kon Tiki.
I couldn’t ask for a better start as I got rid of the jet lag right on time for the kiwi national day: Waitangi Day.
Waitangi is a locality in the North Island, where on 6 February of 1840 Maori chiefs and representatives of the British crown signed the treaty, which is considered as the foundation of New Zeland.
Here in Auckland, where I am currently staying for a few days, it was celebrated with a commemorative day made of free music and good food.
As I said, I couldn’t ask for anything better! It was the perfect chance to be introduced to some Maori and Pacific food. And it was sooooo good! I don’t understand why some people say that kiwi gastronomy has been massively influenced by British food… well, I see why that’s exactly the point of colonization. By the way, I was talking about food which way more politically correct than getting into social stuff.
A bit of history
I was wandering around the stands, there were not too many of them and all of a sudden I found something called Mauri Tent. Oh Avast ye! What the heck are you doing again? Getting distracted in your food quest! The tent was too tempting to not entering and asking the nice woman what was it about and she explained to me many interesting things.
First of all that the main iwi (or tribe) that lives in the area of Auckland and Northland are called Ngāti Whātua. Then she told me that the event was taking place in a place called Bastion Point, which came to symbolize Maori fight for lands back in 1978 during a 506-days protest. If you wanna know more about it I recommend reading here and especially here.
Diving into Pacific food
Last but not least, always comes the food. Food stands were all about kiwi and Pacific food, offering different kinds of fritters (a sort of omelette) stuffed with all kinds of seafood. There was one in particular that made me really curious as it was a pāua fritter which looked black and juicy.
Pāua is a sea snail or mollusc, like mussel basically, apparently, it is quite popular here but it’s something that we are definitely not familiar in the Mediterranean coasts.
Unfortunately, when I reached the food track selling this precious fritter it was too late, at all the pāua was already sold out. I almost cried I swear. So I had to go for a more regular mussel and seafood fritter served with a glorious fluffy fried bread (called paraoa parae).
After that first meeting with some authentic kiwi food, I kept wandering around, despite the burning sun. Again, all of a sudden, I had another foodie revelation: half smoked mullet and grilled corn. I am reeeeeally obsessed with corn, I really am. Every time I see it I am not even able to think, I just have to dig into its golden tiny grains.
A Maori big guy who saw me sitting on a wooden bench with my precious dish told me just this: “Oh I didn’t know they were selling it here! Have fun!”