Friday, January 15, 2016

VEGETARIAN IN NEW ZEALAND : Foodie Travails of a “Pure Vegetarian” in New Zealand – Part 1

Foodie Travails of a “Pure Vegetarian” in New Zealand

Part 1

There is a saying: “WHEN IN ROME – DO AS THE ROMANS DO”

In my opinion – this dictum applies to Food as well.

When you travel – you must see the “sights” – but – you must experience the culinary delights of the place too.

Yes – an essential aspect of “tourism” is to explore the local cuisine.

So – let me paraphrase the maxim – and give you  the foodie version of this saying:


And – if you are visiting New Zealand:


And that is what I intended to do during our recent 18 day New Zealand Visit in Dec/Jan.

And indeed – for a few days – I did manage to adhere to this “foodie motto”.

Strictly speaking – I did not restrict myself to eating only distinctive “New Zealand Cuisine” – but – “I ate in New Zealand as New Zealanders do” – and savored a variety of food that I observed New Zealanders eating with relish – Steaks, Ribs, Seafood (including the ubiquitous “Fish and Chips”) – some Oriental Food – and even – Egyptian Cuisine – the “works”…

It was all fine with me – but I could see that my “Better Half” – my “pure vegetarian” wife was having a tough time.

But I stuck to my vow: “Eat in New Zealand as New Zealanders do”.

A few days later – I ate humble pie – and was scouring the streets of Queenstown – smartphone in hand – searching for a place where my wife could enjoy some “pure vegetarian” food.

In Auckland – my daughter had got some pure vegetarian “tinned stuff” like “Baked Beans/Spinach” etc – and bread – on which my wife managed to survive.

They say: “A picture is worth a thousand words”

So – in order to highlight the contrast between food available for non-vegetarians versus vegetarians  here are pictures of the first meal we ate in New Zealand – at Nando’s in Auckland.

The first picture (below) shows the dish we Non-Vegetarians enjoyed – a sumptuous “Flame Grilled Peri Peri Chicken”.

Flame Grilled Peri-Peri Chicken 
The second picture (below) shows what my Vegetarian “Better Half” ate for her first meal in New Zealand – a spartan Potato Salad.

Potato Salad
Hope this real-life example gives you a glimpse into the ‘Travails’ of a “Pure Vegetarian” in New Zealand. 

Now – Dear Reader – just 2 days after we arrived in Auckland New Zealand  we proceeded on a trip to South Island.

Let us see what happened there... 


But ever since we had landed in South Island – 4 days ago – my “Better Half” was on a “starvation diet” – surviving primarily on Fruits, Cornflakes and Milk served in our hotel for breakfast (sadly – she could not enjoy the rest of the huge breakfast spread of eggs and bacon, ham, salami, sausages, cold cuts et al)

Since “New Zealand Cuisine” comprising “red meat” (steaks, ribs, burgers et al) was out of the question – one evening – in Queenstown – I tried to convince my wife to have “Chinese” Veg Fried Rice and Veg Noodles.

But – just as we were going to enter the Chinese Restaurant – our darling daughter came up with a “Googly” – saying – that it was possible – that the food here would be cooked in lard (animal fat).

This dialogue delivered with superb timing put my wife off “Chinese Food” for the entire trip.

In desperation – we walked down to the nearest McDonald’s (just imagine – going to McDonald’s in Queenstown when the iconic Fergburger was just a few metres away).

We were astonished to learn that McDonald’s did not have a “Veg Burger” on the Menu.

Luckily – the Manager – who seemed to be of Indian origin – took pity on our predicament – and rustled up a “pure veg” dish comprising a bun with tomatoes and lettuce inside – which my wife hungrily ate – while we devoured our fulfilling meat and fish burgers.

It was 2 days later – on the evening of the 28th of December 2015 – that – things became “critical”.

It was “Sankashti Chaturthi” – and my wife was “fasting” the whole day – and she would break her strict fast at Moonrise – which was at 8:54 PM on that night.

So – though ours is an “arranged marriage” – as a “dutiful” husband – it was incumbent upon me to ensure that my “pure vegetarian” wife had a hearty vegetarian meal.

After doing a bit of “research” on some Foodie and Travel Apps on my SmartPhone – I hit the streets of Queenstown – trying to locate a restaurant serving “Pure Veg” Food.

I marched down Shotover Street – past the long queue of hungry foodies waiting for their Burgers at “Fergburger” – and then – I found the place I was looking for – there were 3 “Indian Cuisine” Restaurants in a row – with identical menus (placed outside on a board – as is the fashion there) – and yes – I was delighted to see an array of “pure vegetarian” dishes – including my wife’s favourite “Navratan Korma”.

Of the 3 restaurants – I chose “Tandoori Palace Indian Cuisine”because  among the 3 eateries – “Tandoori Palace” was the most crowded place and almost all tables were occupied – and – most importantly – the happy looking ‘patrons’ seemed to be enjoying their food as was evident from the “happy” expressions on their faces.

And so – that night – we ate a “Pure Vegetarian” Indian Cuisine Dinner comprising “Navratan Korma” and “Tandoori Roti”.

Here is a picture of the Navratan Korma my Pure Vegetarian Better Half relished at Tandoori Palace Queenstown New Zealand.

Pure Vegetarian Navratan Korma

I laughed at myself.

I had vowed to “Eat in New Zealand as New Zealanders do”

And now – I was eating my words – and I was “Eating in New Zealand as Indians do”…

To be continued in Part 2 of Foodie Travails of a “Pure Vegetarian” in New Zealand...

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