We woke up one morning to find that fall had definitely hit New Zealand. The air felt a lot cooler than it had previous mornings, with a crispness that felt new but also familiar.
I briskly walked to school wearing a “jumper” (sweater) and a wind breaker, nearly wishing I was also wearing mittens and pondering how it was possible that yesterday I had made the trip to school in short sleeves. By late-afternoon, I was surprised to find myself in shorts and a tanktop once again.
It has officially been “fall” in New Zealand for a couple of weeks now, but we haven’t seen much evidence the change of season until just recently. I’ve been curious to know what fall will be like here in NZ. There are certain things I have typically associated with fall back in Canada. In the past, the word “fall” has typically connoted for me the beginning of the school year, brightly colored leaves on trees, pumpkin flavored everything, children dressing up in costumes on the 31st of October, cooking with a variety of root vegetables and squashes, drinking Chai tea, and crunching leaves beneath feet.
They certainly don’t have Halloween over here in New Zealand, and I have been told that we won’t see a lot of the leaves changing color here in Auckland, although down on the South Island you will. So far, I have discovered that the subtle changes that fall brings include a more drastic temperature change between early morning and daytime, creating the need for layering. They don’t heat their houses here in New Zealand, nor do they insulate well, and so we have been told that we will have to get used to waking up and going to bed in a house that feels a lot colder than what we’re used to.
We have indeed observed a small percent of the leaves changing color. There is a lovely tree outside our kitchen window here on campus that is exhibiting an odd color changing pattern. Instead of the whole tree changing color at once, as would be typical in Canada, just select branches, or even single leaves on the tree are exhibiting a vibrant color change. It is really quite intriguing, and lovely.
Not only are pumpkins a NZ favorite, but they are also abundant this time of year. We have been doing quite a bit of cooking with the NZ crown pumpkin, in such dishes as soups, risottos, and salads. Pumpkin is also common as a pizza topping over here… will have to try that one soon.
Just the other day, a teacher at school introduced me to a magical green fruit, about the size of an egg, called a Feijoa (pronounced “fee-jo-ah”). The taste and aroma of this fruit is really quite amazing, like nothing I have tasted before. When asked to describe the taste of this tropical fruit, Breno says, “There are no words.” Maturing in autumn, this fruit has a sweet, aromatic flavor. The flesh inside is a sweet, juicy pulp, and as you move closer to the skin, the flesh becomes more grainy and slightly more tart. It is eaten most commonly by slicing in half, and scooping out the pulp with a spoon. This autumn fruit has quickly become a new favorite.
Also in season this time of year is the Cadbury Creme Egg.
Not sure if the news made its way to Canada yet, but the Cadbury Creme Egg has stirred up quite a lot of controversy this year. In previous years, Creme Eggs were manufactured at the Cadbury Plant in Dunedin using NZ dairy, but this year, NZ imported their Cream Eggs from the UK. There has been public backlash against Cadbury, including tv ads and facebook groups that protest the changes to the Cadbury Eggs this year.
What’s so different? Apparently, “The centre filling is not as runny as it’s produced in a different way. In New Zealand, the filling would be injected into the shell version but in the UK .. it goes in as more of a blob,” says Daniel Ellis, spokesperson for Cadbury New Zealand. The fact that it’s not made with world-renown New Zealand Cream does not sit well with the Kiwi Folk either.
Well we had to try out these “new” and “different” Cadbury Eggs, only to find that they were pretty much exactly the same as we were used to back home in Canada. I sure wasn’t opposed to this year’s Creme Egg, and enjoyed the familiarity of this yearly treat. I would, however, be most interested in sampling one of last year’s NZ-made Creme Eggs to experience that difference that everyone is talking about. Maybe someone’s got one of last year’s batch still frozen in their freezer…
Although we hear that cooler weather is coming, we are still enjoying the +20 degree daytime temperatures as they hang around for the moment. We are trying to make the most of this new season of Autumn in NZ, and experience all it has to offer.