Maori and Aboriginal food

Modern New Zealand and Australian cuisine is a fusion of various cultures and traditions but what did the original inhabitants eat?

by: Food24 | 09 Mar 2007

The New Zealand Maori's
Kai (food) has always been an important part of the Maori way of life. Kai connects men and women to the spiritual realm through the gods. Kai connects men and women to the earth, and all the elements including the sun.

Maori, New Zealand's indigenous people were hunters, gatherers and crop farmers, who gathered food from the forest, stream, sea and garden. Their diet was traditionally birds and fish together with gathered wild herbs and roots. Gardens grew root crops including potato and kumara (type of sweet potato).

New Zealanders today continue to enjoy traditional Maori cuisine and delicacies. On special occasions feasting includes traditional foods and cooking methods.

Hangi is a earth oven created by digging a hole in the ground. Stones are heated on a large fire and placed in the pit. Various dishes are then placed wire baskets in stacks starting with meat at the bottom. You cover the baskets with a wet blanket/sheet which in turn covered with sacks covered with dirt. The steam inside this blanket oven cooks the food.

Maori's also use purple potatoes of the taewa tutaekuri variety in their cuisine. The inhabitants of Stewart Island eats a bird called the Rakuira with a very distinct flavour while eel is also quite popular.

The Australian Aboriginals Aboriginals use to survive off the native plants and animals of the Australian environment for thousands of years. Across the many different environments of Australia, they knew how to find food and water.

Traditional Aboriginals dishes include kangaroo and emu (large bird almost like a guinea fowl).

There cooking methods were very direct either placing the meat directly on the fire/coals, cooking meat in hot ashes or in earth oven similar to a Hangi.

Bush foods such as berries, roots and nectars were very important. They also had an intimate knowledge of how to neutralise possible toxins and poisons in the food products.

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