You can tell a lot about a country from their supermarket. I got my first taste of Kiwi grocery shopping the other day and I’m going to bring you along….

First stop…Condiments. A BIG deal in NZ is tomato sauce…And don’t you dare call it ketchup. It’s not ketchup it’s TOMATO SAUCE. They also have an intriguing mint version. I just pray they don’t put it on hot dogs.

Next up, cheerios. No, not the beloved breakfast cereal. We are talking cocktail sausages. They are delicious. Processed meat but BETTER processed meat than any I ever tasted in the US.

Now every grocery cart I scanned had one critical item that it seems Kiwis can’t live without…Pineapple Lumps. New Zealanders consider this precious sweet treat a national treasure. I bought some, duh, and can’t say I agree. Maybe it will take my taste buds awhile to adjust.

Pavlova…Now here’s a sweet I could learn to love. This dessert was named after famous dancer Anna Pavlova when she was touring the country in the 1920s. This is a huge debate among Kiwis and Australians. Although all the research I found traces the original recipe to New Zealand, Australians fight for the title of Original Pavolova Creators as well. This seems to be one of many huge rivalries between NZ and Australia but I’ll save that for a later post.

Pavlova is very similar to meringue with a few differences. For one there is the addition of cornflour, which results in the pavlova having a crisp and crunchy outer shell, and a soft, moist marshmallow-like centre. YUM. The consistency also makes the pavlova significantly more fragile than meringue. Pavlova is traditionally decorated with a topping of whipped cream and fresh fruit. YUM. YUM.

Continuing the sugar trend, it seems entire aisles are dedicated to one sugar that NZ claims is actually very good for you — honey. NZ is world famous for it’s honey and walking through the grocery store it is apparent that if you don’t love honey you can fly back to your home country now. Not only do they use honey to sweeten things up, it has a special property known as Manuka that isn’t present in other typical honeys. NZ honey with high manuka ratings can help with: digestive health, sound sleep, hunger management, skin conditions, colds, energy and antioxidant boost, and sport refueling. Guess I better stock up!

Kiwis have a lot of things right. Their food is delicious and they live life at a slower speed I can appreciate. They do have some things I question though. Take for example their coffee. It couldn’t be worse. They prefer instant grounds stirred up and this weird combination is so weak I can have three cups and not even feel the buzz. Instant coffee seems to be the only coffee. Check out this even weirder example…coffee in a tube or the coffee in a can variation. I have enjoyed taste testing many things since I’ve been here but the coffee tube will not be one of them.

Convenience stretched over to another area of the market as well. The bakery aisle. Now I’ll be the first to admit, the bakery section in the US is a sugar bomb, carbo loaded, coma inducing jungle of sweet treats and fresh breads. One thing I’m proud of Americans for though is that we make certain treats. Take for example pancakes. We get up on a Sunday morning and stir a pre-mixed batter and we gobble down our hot cakes with rivers of syrup. Kiwis apparently buy this nostalgic ritual in a bag…Weird.

Rounding out our supermarket tour, let’s not leave out our four legged friends. American pups chow down on hard, crunchy, grainy dog food that comes in huge bags. I can imagine it is a tasteless, cement textured meal that makes them groan in horror when they hear the bag being opened. Kiwi puppies enjoy a refrigerated, softer variety of food….A dog roll. Or if they are really spoiled they get the “bag o’ meat” on the left. You think this is uncommon but in the ten minutes I was in the grocery store I saw three “bag o’ meats” ready to go home to a hungry pup.

And last but not least…BEER. Seems like the craft brewing industry isn’t terrible for such a small country. Creative names and good packaging. Can’t ask for much more!

Glad you joined me on my weekly food stock up. Now please go make some fresh pancakes in my honor. With bananas on top and a moat of maple syrup.

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