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.