Wildfoods Fest New
Zealand March 2007
The Wildfoods Festival is an iconic event held annually in the West Coast town of Hokitika. This normally peaceful town of about 3,000 hosts this event of 17,000. People come from all over to partake in various tasty treats and drink huge amounts of Monteith's beer. We were fortunate to have very nice weather for this year's festival, as it tends to rain heaps and heaps in Hokitika.
Huhu grubs anyone? Normally you'll find them in rotting logs, not on the grill. We saw that it was safer to eat the cooked ones - while we were watching two people got bit on the lips (drew blood!) as they tried to bite into the live ones. "Just bite their heads off, then you'll be right" seemed like some sensible local advice in this area.
The whole community comes out to support the Festival. Here the Rotary club is doing their civic duty, supplying the attendees with squirts of some local liquour concoction. Now that's public service!
Possum anyone? Possums were introdiced to New Zealand from Australia. Like most introduces species, they have run amok and are destroying the place. They are most often seen dead on the road. Perhaps if the "Chicken of the Forest" concept takes hold their numbers will be reduced. I am not holding my breath waiting for that advertising campaign.
It wouldn't be New Zealand without some Whitebait. Kiwis love this stuff, and one of the few offerings at the Fest you are likely to find in an everyday cafe. Transparent minnows that are caught in the spring with nets and cooked into "patties" - basically minnow omelettes. We have not developed a taste for these yet.
How about some worms? We passed on this one, although it was fun to hang out here and watch people eathing the various worm dishes.
Mutton Birds are a traditional Maori food. The nearly-grown chicks are pulled from their underground nests and preserved for later consumption. I found them to be extremely salty and fatty.
Barbequed Cow Udder anyone? Despite the large line at this boot we just could not bring ourselves to partake.