Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Passionate about Passionfruit

This is a slimy, acidic, weird fruit to eat. The outside shell is wrinkled and hard. The inside is slimy in texture, and slips down your throat. There are strange crunchy seeds. But the flavour... to die for! And it's in yogurt and gelati and I love this fruit in and with almost anything! Just gorgeous. The fruit came originally from South or Central America, and does quite well in sunny locations in Aus. I'm sure I've seen it in Winnipeg, but that's been transported way too far.

Susanna Voth Wiebe, my mother, suggested I talk about food in one of the postings. We discovered different flavours when we arrived in New Zealand, especially in the milk products, a favourite of the younger threesome. I think it's because the animals that produce these products spend all their time outside, not in factory farms. And the light cream they use (the kids do like it on their morning oatmeal!) is always thickened, another new texture. But we were blown away by new taste sensations.

Then we encountered the meat products (most of the gang in our home like their meat but I have been a more reluctant convert). Again, the flavour is awesome. I think it's because it isn't factory farmed. The egg yolks are bright, golden yellow. The chooks forage outside. Lamb is a real treat. The variety of sausages (snags, bangers), made by local butchers, is outstanding. A barbecue isn't complete without snags. You can see and taste the Mediterranean's European influence in the sausages. We've tried barbecued kangaroo, a dark, lean meat.

No Australian meal, at least a more formal one, is complete without a serving of pumpkin, which is squash. Pumpkin turns up in a variety of soups -- pumpkin and roasted red pepper; pumpkin and carrot. The carrots we've eaten taste like sweet carroty carrots. Don't know how else to describe it. Probably relates to the soil type and the climate, but I don't remember such tasty carrots in the shops. We had to buy some from a local farmer in Manitoba for that great taste.

Foods of the more "processed" variety, such as crackers or cookies, don't contain the high fructose corn syrup that is now so common in North American processed food, so you can actually taste the ingredients that went into the item. There are fewer drive-through food places, although there is no lack of local take away businesses, selling everything from fish and chips (big chunks of potato, no little measly french fries), chicken and chips, to made-to-order sandwiches, and Asian noodle dishes. There is less of the American influence in food (over-processing, weird and strange additives), and that's fine with us. Sea food is everywhere -- in Apollo Bay, we were able to buy fish and a lobster from a local fishermen's coop.

And coffee. If you like good coffee, you've come to coffee heaven. Few drive-throughs, like the Canadian Timmy's outlets, but every little town, park, neighbourhood has a cafe serving hand made individual coffees. There are very few Starbucks outlets (we found one in Napier, NZ, of all places -- they are franchised individually, which is unique to NZ), at least in our part of Aus, but no fear... great coffee is everywhere.

One Canadian product, maple syrup, actually cost less in NZ (and sometimes less in Aus) than in Canada. A real treat in NZ consisted of pancakes with fried bananas and maple syrup, and bacon on the side. A wicked combination. The bacon is gorgeous, and this is from someone who hasn't enjoyed bacon, ever. Food costs here are generally higher than in Canada... not sure why. Someone suggested it's because things are transported over greater distances, although you'd think that would affect costs in the centre of Canada as well. I think it's because we're competing with the U.S. market, thus the value or the price paid is driven down. And without knowing what farmers and farm workers are paid, their wages may be higher here in Aus. I would have to check into that before I make such a sweeping statement.

The fabulous desserts we have tried are worth trying. Pavlova stands out: A meringue base, slathered in fruit (anything you like, anything in season), covered in whipped cream. Either served as individual little cakes you try to pop into your mouth without it breaking all over you, or a big cake which you slice carefully. And eat carefully. Anzac biscuits, a classic served around Anzac Day (April 25), but a treat anytime. These biscuits (cookies)were developed by the mothers, wives, and girlfriends of the overseas Australian and NZ troops. The goal was to create a treat with nutritional value to make up for the slop being served to the troops, that could then sustain several months of transport on ships that had no refrigeration. People love their slices (squares), and when it was Tom's turn to bring 2 items for morning tea last Friday, I made Susanna's (mom's) pineapple square and a carrot cake.

We attended a barbecue in a small town one evening, and one of the women who had prepared the food said to me, "I just love a sweet after my meal, so I thought everyone else would want one as well." The sweets she provided included pavlova, custard and fruit, and a trifle. Hard to turn anything away!


Sandra Elias said...

Mmmmm, getting hungry just reading your post! I completely concur with your statement re: coffee. Australia and New Zealand make a wicked cup of coffee - long black please...
Re: desserts - you must try and find banoffie pie. Banana and toffee, often with some chocolate....
I also found the sammies way better especially the toasted ones. Not sure if its all the yummy spreads/relishes they have...

B and Co said...

Hey girl, the sammies are fabulous. I have no complaints about those either. (And I like
beetroot in a sammie...)