Two years ago I was sat in my Father in Law’s lounge in Gore, New Zealand. We were sat with a beer, looking out over his land, discussing my blog and what I would do when I drew his country. In the sky there were hawks and wild deer were prancing in the distance. But that was then and this is now. A year ago almost to the day he passed on and left us all forever proud to have known him. He was a massive man in stature, strength and aura and the thought that he isn’t be here to read my post on New Zealand is devastating. In his memory I’m doing the dish he made me promise I would do that night, over that beer.
That night we debated dishes for hours. We thought about whether it should be the famous NZ lamb, but he thought that, whilst delicious, it wasn’t really the national dish, but more so something they produce a lot of well. We talked about Blue Cod “fush and chups” and how they were so popular in the South Island. We thought about whether we should include Bluff Oysters somehow. He had battered some in beer for me the first time I had been over to NZ and they were delicious, but I couldn’t really make a meal of them. He told me that really I should do a Hāngi (a traditional Maori dish), but eventually we both agreed that me digging up our paved garden in London to dig a pit to bury the meat in wasn’t practical. In the end he made the decision as he stood up to get us another beer. I remember every word. He said “You are going to write about a Pavlova, the real Kiwi dessert Joe, but you need to get Des to make it. She is a Kiwi and she will do it right”. And with that the decision was made.
So, this week for the first and only time, I didn’t make the dish, my wife did.
What is the biggest competitive clash between Australia and New Zealand? Is it the Bledisloe Cup Rugby Union? Is it a Cricket Test? Is it even a netball rumble between the two greats? No. It’s who owns the origin of a dessert made out of eggs, sugar and fruit. Both countries lay claim to this soft, squidgy dish. It’s wonderfully competitive and brilliantly camp, but New Zealand have won. Here are the claims:
New Zealand state that Anna Pavlova, a Russian Ballerina, had visited Wellington and tasted the dish made by a Kiwi chef and fell in love with it, telling all and sundry. It was therefore named after her.
Australia state that an Australian lady Emily Flutter made the dish up in a book called “Home Cookery for New Zealand”. To me that claim seems loose, in that if the dish is for New Zealand – perhaps it already existed in NZ
Either way, it’s a delicious meringue dish covered in cream or crème fraiche and topped with KIWI fruit and strawberries….or whatever you like.
There is another first for this dish in my journey. I can’t tell you how it was made. I am not allowed to know. My wife is holding onto a family secret which dates back about 40 years (about the same age as NZ) and I’m not to know. You are going to have to look up a recipe.
In many ways I wanted to celebrate the country I love second only to mine in this post, but instead I want you to find out why I love it so much for yourself. Go and visit the vibe of Auckland, or the lakes of Wanaka and Queenstown. Drive for a day in the South Island and feel like you are crossing a scene from each of the continents in one day. Relax in Russell in the North Island and feel like you are on a 1950’s holiday or just drive through the countryside and think how you can absolutely understand why Lord of The Rings was filmed there. It’s amazing.
I love the country like it is my own, and whilst it isn’t I hope that I have been adopted a little.
Post in Memory of Ross Andrew. Dad, Father in Law, Grandad Ross. We wave to you in the moon every night.