Get ready for a metaphor…
It takes all the right ingredients to bake a cake.
Is this a really bad metaphor? I think so. But sometimes a cliché is a cliché for a good reason (is that cliché?). Thing is, I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up the role that food plays in an adventure in a far away place, or an adventure anywhere for that matter. And people take their food preferences, and meal experiences VERY seriously. I know I do. My own maniacal pickiness when it comes to food is one of the reasons why we pay close attention to preparing home cooked meals on an Active Adventures trip. Life is too short to eat average food, so why do it on the trip of a lifetime? Lets get that cake baked perfectly.
But it’s not just taste that contributes to a food experience while on a wilderness adventure in New Zealand. It’s the source, the preparation time, location, care and personalised attention to detail leading to your plate that makes every bite feel earned, valued and appropriate for where you are, in that moment. There are a few ingredients that we’ve stuck to over the years, that are still making the “Active Adventures Cake” a winner. Here’s what our thinking was, and still is…
The back country is never an obstacle
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that entering the backcountry or wilderness for a few days = cutting back on the creature comforts. To a degree, that’s right. We all know that a sandwich or a slice of chocolate tastes THAT much better when you’re out hiking, biking or paddling. But why limit ourselves to a few little treats? We’ve always made sure that carrying a couple of extra ingredients or items means that we’ll eat like kings every meal. There’s nothing like sitting in a back country hut in Nelson Lakes National Park, looking up to the Angeles Mountain range, and devouring a delicious meal cooked by your guide. There’s a difference between good and amazing.
We’ve all been there – you’ve been invited to dinner somewhere, you haven’t discussed your food preferences (not your food needs – we’ll get to that!), and then you’re served black bean pie and brussel sprouts (I HATE beans). You get the picture. It’s uncomfortable, awkward and puts a downer on the evening. Unless dessert is a perfect lemon tart.
The point is, we’re generally picky, to a greater or lesser degree. And we should make no apologies for that. That’s why a home cooked meal, combined with knowing what you like before you join us on a trip here in New Zealand, goes a long way. We’ve seen all sorts of weird and wonderful food preferences over the years, so if peanut butter, cheese and chilli sauce on toast is something you just can’t do without at 10pm at night, then that’s no worries. Yes – that’s true, someone really did want that.
We make the most of being a young nation
New Zealand is arguably one of the most cosmopolitan countries in the world, meaning we’ve opened our doors not only to creating a culturally diverse little county, but a gastronomically diverse one at that. That’s not to say that we’ll mix a chicken vindaloo with an enchilada and serve it up at the end of a great days hiking (although that might just work!), but we’re able to bring all the influences from our diverse culture and mix things up a bit to make things “fusion kiwi!”
It’s about the love of food
I don’t know about you, but to me there’s something that always seems to be missing when I get a meal from a restaurant and I can’t see the kitchen. I’ll always prefer a restaurant where there is an open kitchen. You can see the flair, energy and passion that goes into the preparation of your meal, and so it’s all put into context, as opposed to it seeming to magically appear 20 minutes after you ordered. It’s better for the chef too. When you join us in New Zealand, expect to hang out in the kitchen, glass of wine in hand, chew the fat with your guide as they prepare dinner, observe the attention to detail, love of the task at hand, and then sit down and share the stories of the activities of the day as they see you enjoying the meal they’ve prepared.
Why ask to see the chef to compliment him or her, when they’re right there, enjoying their meal with you?
– Phil, Active Adventures Director