James Rus­sell

El­e­ment editor

Element - - Contents -

My first mean­ing­ful culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ence was three decades ago, when my mum first bought an av­o­cado. She sliced it, and to­gether we ex­am­ined the pis­ta­chio­hued flesh. She re­moved the seed with a tea­spoon (the knife trick would come later). On a hunch she filled the pits with her clas­sic vi­nai­grette. We ate half each.

The dense, sweet, rich­ness of the av­o­cado and fra­grant tang of the dress­ing com­bined to be­come some­thing ex­po­nen­tially greater than its parts. It’s still the best way to eat an av­o­cado.

Right about then cook­ing in New Zealand ex­ploded. Mums were do­ing the Jamie Oliver thing while he was still at pri­mary school. Aside from some ner­vous pen­sion­ers, we em­braced it; when you in­vite some­one to your house for tea, you gen­er­ally don’t have to worry if they like aubergine, or veni­son. We’re great cooks and, more im­por­tant, we’re great eaters.

In this is­sue we cel­e­brate the folk at the pin­na­cle of our food cul­ture, blaz­ing new trails or keep­ing the clas­sics alive, al­beit with re­fresh­ing new twists.

The fea­ture comes with a more se­ri­ous mes­sage, how­ever – to make re­spon­si­ble food choices: in sea­son, from sus­tain­able stock, pro­duced with­out ex­ploita­tion of peo­ple or cru­elty to an­i­mals, be aware of its ori­gin and, if you can, try or­ganic pro­duce for its nu­tri­ent den­sity and flavour.

As well as the tast­ing bet­ter, food is just eas­ier to en­joy that way.

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