Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vegan in New Zealand

Since New Zealanders call themselves and their money kiwis, I was determined to see one while I was there. I quickly found out not only are they endangered and extremely rare, but they live deep within the forests and only come out to forage for grubs at night. I couldn't imagine myself traipsing alone in the wilderness with night vision goggles, so here is a picture of one taxidermied in the Domain Museum. I hope this doesn't offend vegan pacifists. We'll never know if this bird suffered when it died. I was impressed with their size though. Like a big chicken or rooster. Another interesting fact, their breast bone is flat, allowing no air born wings to attach themselves there as with all other birds.
We flew direct from LA to Auckland (12 hours and pictured below, right). My companion's sister and hubby picked us up and took us to stay at their place, in the Mount Albert neighborhood. Most everyone I was with were ova-lacto vegetarians. The first meal Nick made us fooled me into thinking they were gourmet cooks. As it turned out, he bought frozen soy "chicken " nuggets which he fried and skewered on sticks. Heated up canned peanut Thai satay sauce to go with. He pan fried ready to serve udon noodles with another store bought jar of pad Thai mixed in. We were hungry and it was delicious. Later when I offered to cook, I noticed they didn't even keep fresh garlic on hand! It is always fun to check out foreign markets, in your home country but especially abroad. I got familiar with their corner grocer pretty quick and delighted with Lim's Asian market a few blocks away. On the way to Lim's there was a Vegetarian grocer as well. Down their hill, a yummy organic breakfast house, Trinity of Silver beckoned us more than once.
I was very fortunate to have a friend to visit way up north, with whom I spent 5 days with at the bay of Hourhora, a very small village. They started out in 1974 as fisherman and women. Then they got into Avocado farming. Now they are in semi-retirement, which worked great for me. After showing me the northern most tip of their country, pictured below, they took me to Ninety Mile Beach, which everyone drives on. Think of Pismo Beach, Ca on steroids. Vast hard sand, large surf from the Tasman Sea, usually windy too. They cooked every night. When I offered to take them out to dinner, they laughed. The only take away (take out) in their village wasn't worthy of their interest. The nearest town was a 20 minute drive south to Kaitaia and since I couldn't offer to drive, (I'm not brave enough to rent a car when they drive on the other side of the road from us) it made perfect sense to hang in and enjoy the local fare. We dined on the local yams, and salad with fish and meats. they used to be vegetarians when they were young hippies, but that was a long time ago. They grow their own herbs and summer veggies like tomatoes, but August is winter down under. We ate a really lovely and easy cabbage salad that lasted several days in the fridge.
Cabbage Salad
Cabbage 1/2 head
carrots 2-3
one red bell pepper
one apple
a couple of sprigs mint (or cilantro or parsley)
1 tablespoon olive oil
the juice of one lemon or lime
Garnish with avocado slices (optional)
Shred finely the cabbage. Grate the carrots. Chop the red bell, apple, and fresh herb into small pieces. Throw into a large bowl. Add the oil and juice and toss together. Garnish with thin avocado slices. So refreshing and delicious!

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