Where’s the Beef?


In this land where sheep outnumber humans 4 to 1 (there are about 4 million people) and lamb a very important part of the diet, does beef get short-shrift? I sense that it isn’t a prominent part of the Kiwi diet. But, beef is available and it is of high quality. Grass-fed beef is much more common here than in the U.S., which means there is no need for antibiotic use. There are such vast amounts of pastureland in New Zealand that allowing cattle to eat grass is economically viable. The one rib-eye steak I had was definitely a bit chewier and less fatty than grain-fed steak.

And hamburgers are different here. What in the States is a ground beef patty sandwich is here a kind of strip steak between two buns served with “tomato sauce” (very similar to catsup), chard (called beetroot) and sometimes a fried egg. After my first chewy bite is when I noticed that the meat was actually a steak. The only way I could manage to eat it was with fork and knife, which I later discovered from our guide on Lake Wanaka is how Kiwis do it. The same guide also rued that McDonald’s is changing the way hamburgers are being prepared here. And why are hamburgers offered primarily at fish and chips restaurants? Everywhere we went, the two were inseparably paired on menus. Go figure.

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