We both claim to have invented the pavlova, but when it comes to everyday food are we very different from our Australian cousins? Ask any New Zealander and they’ll say yes. But most Australians, it seems, think of us as being the same.
A new colleague of mine, freshly off the plane from Oz and now working as a dietitian in New Zealand, has been blown away by the differences. Having worked in trans-Tasman roles for years based in Sydney, she admits it’s taken a move to NZ to see the extent of the differences between our two countries. Refreshingly , she’s also now saying of her Aussie colleagues : “They just don’t get it!”
So what are some obvious differences?
- We know what’s in season and, what’s more, we often get quite excited about seasonal food changes. Apparently most Australians are less aware of their food’s seasonality.
- We eat spuds, while rice is more of a staple in Australia.
- We drink tea. In Australia it’s more likely to be coffee and maybe iced tea.
- While Mediterranean foods are certainly available here, they’re not really as main stream as Australia. It’s more common to find a New Zealander describing ricotta as “posh cottage cheese”, but not so the Australians.
- Awareness of the Glycaemic Index of foods. In Australia, food manufacturers pay for most low GI foods to bear the “approved low GI” symbol from the GI Foundation of Australia. It’s as common as the Heart Foundation tick is here. New Zealanders don’t really understand what all the low GI fuss is all about. This is surprising in a way, since we have a higher rate of diabetes than they do in Australia – especially in our minority population groups.
- Most New Zealanders will have tried food prepared in a traditional Māori way, such as a boil-up or hāngī. I’m not sure how many Australians would have tried traditional Aboriginal food.
I’d love to hear about other food differences anyone out there has observed between us and our large “West Island”. Please add a comment to the blog to share.
As with any country, our food is a key part of what makes us distinctive as a culture. To know us is to eat with us. Our food culture has perplexed many trans-Tasman food marketers. Those who acknowledge, even embrace, those differences are likely to be more successful at making a meaningful connection with ‘us kiwis’.