Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cheddar and Kiwis

I've never eaten Cheddar cheese with kiwi fruit, and I don't think I ever will. Kiwis are the only other thing besides meat that I don't eat; they leave an unpleasant metallic taste in my mouth. But here in New Zealand, the home of Kiwis, I tried another unusual fruit and cheese combo: Cheddar and pineapple!
As much as I enjoy pairing Cheddar with fruit chutneys, this particular combo would never have come to me. It's not, however, an unusual one in New Zealand. Pineapple shows up in all sorts of places where you wouldn't expect it, like cheese sandwiches on white bread (see photo). And so does beetroot. Meals and sandwiches aren't complete for Kiwis unless they've eaten some sliced beetroot with it. When I went over to a Kiwi's house for dinner, the family passed around the beets in a plastic container that seemed specially designed for this sweet vegetable--kind of like the pineapple of the vegetable world. Everyone at the dinner, including the young niece and nephew and the college-age son and his girlfriend who's still in high school, reached for it. At the dinner, I mentioned to the mother of the young children, that I had eaten a cheese and pineapple sandwich. She replied, "Oh, isn't that combo gorgeous?"
Actually, it was disappointing. I was ready for a full-on, strange taste of bulk cheese and sweet and tangy pineapple. Instead, it tasted like any other pre-made sandwich. The bread was white and spongy, the grated cheese insipid. The pineapple, which was finely minced, was barely a presence. There was no other sign of fruit of vegetables in the sandwich. In fact, you couldn't even detect the pineapple. The minced fruit was the same color as the cheese.
Despite its plain nature, I was thankful for the sandwich. It was about the only vegetarian thing I could find at the local dairy in Renwick, the very small town that I camped in to explore the famous Marlborough wine region. I should clarify what a dairy is. In New Zealand it is the corner store, not the place where Cheddar cheese might be made. There were plenty of meat options at the dairy, mainly in the form of New Zealand's national food, the pie. A pie for Kiwis is not a big fruit-filled one, sold by the slice, as in the State, but a little personal-size pie, almost like a pot pie, that is filled with some sort of meat stuff and usually accompanied by a squirt of ketchup and a beer.
I'm not sure whether I'd go for a pineapple and cheese sandwich again, but I'd certainly have one with sliced beetroot and the other fillings that this New Zealand family provided for lunch when they took me out on their boat on the Marlborough sounds: tamari-roasted nuts, fig & onion chutney, corn relish, a more spicy relish, fresh tomatoes, and hummus. The more on my Cheddar sandwich the better. But please make my bread whole wheat and not white!

1 comment:

rcsnyny said...

Other important kiwi sandwich combos include:
Cheese and onion (grated raw)
Marmite and chips (American crisps)
Cream cheese, walnuts, and raisins
New Zealand bread is wonderful. The secret is that it's really fresh and has no sweeteners.