New Zealand Food Exploration: Feijoa

The morning after we arrived in New Zealand, we lurched, jet-lagged, down an Auckland street and stumbled into a café for breakfast.

The dawning realisation that my strict food budget really wasn’t going to go that far put a severe downer on proceedings, but I perked up when I saw a bottled smoothie of an unknown fruit for sale.

The cross-section illustration on the label was disturbingly similar to a cucumber, but I was feeling optimistic and took a generous swig.


It was grainy, tart, and not wholly pleasant. I ended up leaving half of it and mentally started to nudge feijoas onto my “dislikes” list.

Flash forward a couple of weeks and we are in Nelson, leaning over the counter in the Penguino Gelato Café. A frustrating morning with hire car problems had led to my making a financial decision which would be the envy of any shady accountant. I declared ice cream was being re-categorised as an entertainment, and thus would no longer have an impact upon our food budget.

This immediately led to our splurging on a tasting platter of nine scoops of different gelato, one of which was feijoa.

In this form, it strongly reminded me of a gooseberry ice cream my grandmother used to make. It had the same sour sweetness, and though neither of us rated it as the top choice (I’ll be writing more on the visit in another post), it was a vast improvement on the drink.

Forward-wind another week or so, and I happen across some feijoa in a supermarket. They are much smaller than I imagined, lime-sized and varying in shape from a shallot to a rounded plum.

I hustled them back to our motel room, and after boyfriend H took a few snaps, I dug in with a spoon (having read off the back of some pre-packaged ones that this was the best approach).

As a fresh fruit there was a hint of banana and melon, a grainy sourness and an unpleasant tang that reminded of the paraffin-like tinge one encounters in some mangos. H was not on board, and I was only hovering on the gangplank.

As we continued on our travels we saw feijoa juice, a feijoa tree laden with fruit and TV adverts for a magazine featuring recipes. I remained unconvinced and certainly don’t miss them, but was intrigued enough to spend a few minutes reading about them on Wikipedia and await their appearance in the UK one day, when easily-bored palates are demanding a new thrill.

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