Celebrating good kai with good company

This weekend is Matariki, a time when people, whānau and communities gather to remember the year that has past, to celebrate the present and to plan for the year ahead.

This year’s theme is Matariki Heri Kai - The feast of Matariki. “Matariki Heri Kai” comes from the Māori proverb, “Matariki whetū heri kai”, meaning Matariki, the bringer of food.

Mātauranga Matariki chief adviser Professor Rangi Mātāmua says the different stars in the Matariki cluster have an association to the various domains from where we source our food, in particular: gardens (Tupuānuku), forests (Tupuārangi), fresh water (Waitī) and ocean (Waitā). This connection encourages people to consider their role in protecting and caring for these ecosystems.

“Building on last year’s theme “Matariki kāinga hokia” we encourage people to view Matariki as a time to journey home, spend time with whānau and friends, and enjoy feasting on fresh, locally sourced produce,” he said when announcing the theme.

So it seems fitting that our Fresh tabloid comes out this week filled with recipes for celebrating hearty winter vegetables.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Steph Peirce shows how to take vegetables from a side dish to the main plate with recipes from her new book Everyday Salads - Autumn+Winter and Alison Lambert has transformed her usual meat dishes into vegetarian wonders.

Fresh also features the story of former Dunedin chef Paddy Rietveld who will be far from home this Matariki. He will be in Antarctica, making do without that fresh produce, but still enjoying good kai and company doing what he does best, put a smile on people’s faces with his baking.

Joan Bishop is hoping her baby cakes will similarly brighten a winter’s day with their zing of lemon and marmalade, while Alice Taylor is channelling comfort food with her winter rice pudding with mulled wine apples.

In our book extract, Australian nutritionist Sarah Pound shows what can be done with a bit of time and a slow cooker when it comes to making some family favourites with a twist.

And if you need a drop of wine or two for those winter casseroles, our wine writer Mark Henderson has just the suggestion - a French red.

Rebecca Fox
Lifestyle editor