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Posts Tagged ‘Christchurch’

Let me start with a confession. I cheated. Before you get shocked that I sold my soul for a mere meal, let me reassure you that I did not slide into eating meat. Not even in my most hungry moments was I tempted to jump out of the car on the SH-1 and run up the rolling hills to steal a sheep or two for my much delayed lunch. Yes, there are 12 million sheep in New Zealand and if I had made away with a couple for a quick takeout meal, they wouldn’t have been missed, but that’s not the point. I have been a lifelong vegetarian and mean to stay that way.

No, what I really meant was that I didn’t do a whole lot of exploring native cuisine that we’re expected to do while traveling. We are told that a great deal of a culture is mixed up with the cuisine and to explore native cuisine is to immerse oneself in that culture. Alas, I failed in that in New Zealand. Since the staple cuisine of New Zealand is steak, sea food, lamb or venison, what did you expect, really?

So I cheated by eating a lot of Indian food. And since I’m Indian myself, this is very unglamorous and non-adventurous. In my defense, I can only say that in all the major cities -Auckland, Wellignton and Queenstown, and even in the smaller towns such as Greymouth, Franz Josef – Indian food  was readily available. Even when I told myself that I would try to find a different type of cuisine, I ended up succumbing to Indian food. I would be walking around pretending to look for something both vegetarian and ‘authentic’ and suddenly, my taste and smell buds would be hit by a combination of about 22 different Indian spices. I’d shrug to myself and head over to eat dal makhani or paneer tikka from  restaurants that called themselves Rasoi, Tulsi or Flavors of India. I didn’t try very hard to resist the temptation.

Of course there are other options as well for vegetarians. Thai restaurants are ubiquitous, and one can get vegetarian versions of most dishes. Just ask them to skip the fish or oyster sauce and send up a prayer that they don’t add any other sort of obscure sauce derived from some poor animal without its explicit approval.

Turkish and Greek restaurants and bistros also seem to be very popular. I did try to eat at a Greek restaurant one day, but readily gave up when it did not seem to be well stocked with veggie options. The guy behind the counter pointed to one single item on the menu – falafels -when I asked about vegetarian food, and said they did not have anything else. While I like falafals, I didn’t much like his attitude. So back I headed to the Indian joint -hey they had at least a dozen dishes.

There’s nothing as filling and nourishing as an authentic New Zealand breakfast, as I found at one of our homestays. The jam was all homemade, and so was the honey. Manuka honey is a New Zealand specialty and is said to possess antiseptic properties. And is tasty as hell.

I also fell madly in love with the mocachino in New Zealand, but it deserves a separate post by itself.

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