There are loads of things you miss when you move halfway across the world.
Family and friends, obviously, but there are so many other things too – your favourite radio station, that boutique where you always found the perfect outfit, and food!
You wouldn’t think there would be that much difference in the cuisine between New Zealand and the UK – a big chunk of Kiwis are from here originally anyway so for the most part there’s not. We love a roast dinner as much as any Brit, and you’ll find lots of veggies, fruit, chicken and (no surprises here) lamb.
But there are also some distinct differences too. Kiwis eat a lot more seafood, especially prawns and mussels – the more adventurous could even eat paua (a large sea snail) kina (a spiky sea urchin) and whitebait fritters, made from underdeveloped baby fish. I’ve only realised just now how weird that all sounds.
My favourite fruit of all time is a feijoa – a green torpedo-shaped flowering fruit that originated in South America but was adopted with open arms by New Zealanders. Inside is a soft creamy flesh that tastes like a cross between a pear and a passionfruit (my mouth is literally watering as I think of them), and they’re so abundant in autumn they literally tumble off the wild feijoa trees and lay in piles on the ground for you to pick up.
One of my happiest childhood memories is walking down the nearby feijoa grove (it seemed HUGE back then, but was probably a cluster of four or five trees) and collecting bucketfuls of the fruit. We’d eat them as we went – biting them in half, then squeezing out the soft filling, then spend the rest of the afternoon sitting in the front garden scoffing them – the pile of empty skins growing taller and taller.
I’m not even joking when I say it slightly breaks my heart that I haven’t had a feijoa since the day I left New Zealand, 20 years ago (which is why I was THRILLED to read this story in The Guardian, about how my homeland wants to starts exporting their fruity national treasure).
I miss New Zealand crisps. We call them chippies (not to be mistaken with chips – which is what Australians call crisps – which, like here, refer to the deep-fried-potato-slice kind). We also call ice lollies ice blocks, while Aussies call them icy poles. Confused yet?!
Another back-home delicacy is our famous chippie dip (or, to pronounce it in proper Kiwinese – a chuppie dup). If you ever want to test if someone really is from New Zealand, ask them to how to make it. If they’re a true Kiwi, they’ll know what you mean.
Basically, it’s a tub of reduced cream mixed with a packet of Maggi dried onion soup and finished with a splash of vinegar. I know, I know – it sounds bloody awful… but it’s not. Or maybe it is, but us Kiwis are so acclimatised to it we don’t even realise, or care (I mean, Swedes eat Surströmming, which is basically rotten fish, so – put into context – this really isn’t that bad).
Either way, it’s something that New Zealander’s grow up with, as enmeshed in our Kiwi food culture as chocolate fish and beetroot on burgers.
Then there are the marshmallow Easter eggs that Mum has to send me each year (like, seriously guys, where all the chocolate-covered marshmallow treats be at?! You’re missing a major confectionery trick).
And don’t even get me started on Rashuns – a cheese and bacon flavoured corn snack that will literally blow your mind. This is not some Kiwi-born brainwashing, BTW, I introduced them to English-born OH and he literally goes into paroxysms of joy every time he eats one.
Luckily for me, and possible for you too, there are one or two (or 60,000, according to the Office for National Statistics) other Kiwis floating about the UK, all of whom seem to be missing the exact same things as me. While feijoas – for now – remain frustratingly out of my reach, my snack-based dreams can be turned into reality, thanks to SANZA – the one-stop shop for South African, New Zealand and Australian food.
From this one amazing website I can order all those goodies that I’ve been pining after for years – from sweets and biscuits to crisps and drinks. It’s the craziest de-ja-vu feeling when you see products and packets you haven’t laid eyes on for years – I hadn’t banked on the feelings of nostalgia when I unwrapped my parcel of Kiwi goodies.
I’d ordered chippies, the onion dip ingredients and liquorice from the New Zealand shop. A random selection, yes, but I simply went where my taste buds took me. I relished every mouthful of my Down Under treats but didn’t ration myself as I would have if mum had sent them over because I knew I could replenish my stocks at any time, simply by going back on the website.
For a Kiwi girl a long way from home, it’s helped bring New Zealand just a little bit closer.
• read about how it felt returning to New Zealand for the first time in 10 years