Is it a bird, a fruit, a person. . . or all of the above?
After almost two weeks in this beautiful land of all kinds of kiwis, we are settling in and beginning to get our bearings. There have been hits and misses food-wise, to be sure, and mostly misses. Why, you ask? Well. For starters, my beloved cookbooks, Vitamix, and coffee accoutrements — not to mention my coats and winter shoes (which I’d like to wear to find good eats, it’s been stormy and cold) — remain MIA in the storage unit. Furthermore, since our arrival we’ve been staying in a 16th-floor-itsy-bitsy-not-one-drawer hotel room with our 10 pieces of luggage and four people, and subsisting mainly on peanut butter (cue celestial music for PB, I somehow still like it). Further furthermore, we have been focused primarily on getting everyone registered and set up for various levels of educational pursuits. As a result of all these non-food related shenanigans, my status as expat foodie has been on the back burner.
But the times are a-changin’, friends! Tonight we’ll be checking out my top choice for Thai cuisine in Auckland, Blue Elephant, and this weekend we will venture into a new part of the city and peruse another farmer’s market (there are dozens!). And perhaps most important, we are moving into a 4-bedroom house tomorrow and I will be able to not only stretch my legs and get a moment’s peace from certain energetic children, but be able to cook.
Last weekend we visited the Bay of Islands and toured the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the 1840 agreement that made New Zealand a nation was signed between the Maori and the British. Our Maori guide told the legend of why kiwi birds are the national bird of New Zealand as well as a beloved nickname for her people. Apparently insects were destroying the forest, and the god of the forest, Tane-mahuta, called upon the birds of the sky to help. The brave kiwi was the only one to come to the forest floor and fight to save the trees. As a reward for giving up its ability to fly the kiwi became the most adored and well-known bird of all. I hope the trade, which made kiwis susceptible to all kinds of flightless bird issues, was worth it.
Just as you might expect, kiwifruits are prolific, inexpensive, and delicious here — we’ve eaten them almost daily, and our favorite is definitely the golden variety. Kiwifruit–originally known as “Chinese gooseberries”– are indigenous to China and were brought to New Zealand in the early 1900s. It wasn’t until after World War II when American servicemen first tasted the fruit that Chinese gooseberries shipped commercially from New Zealand were renamed “kiwis” as they resemble the birds in shape and color.
There are over 60 species of kiwifruits, but only a few are well-known around the world. High in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C — and low in calories, of course (unless paired with twinkies or fries) — the tiny kiwi packs an unexpected nutritional punch. High potassium intake has been shown to help lower blood pressure, regulate and deepen sleep (jet-lag be gone!), and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Having just relocated to one of the most intensely sunny places in the world, I’m happy to report that collagen production (think youthful, smooth, healthy skin.. . are you listening, face?) depends heavily on vitamin C.
I’ve been enjoying kiwis in their own tiny, adorable bowls, but am excited to try them in my smoothies, atop chia-seed coconut pudding, and in salads. I will post a few kiwi-laden recipes soon. Until then, kia ora (good health)! 🙂