Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Whitebait Fritters

Hi there

I was in New Plymouth, leaning over a bridge, and looking down into the river. There was a guy standing in the river, holding a scoop net.  An American lady asked me what he was doing

"He's collecting whitebait," I said.

"Oh, I know about whitebait," she said.  "Tiny transparent tadpole-like fish."

"You fillet their eyes out," I said.

...and she believed me!  For all of about one minute until I burst into laughter.

Filleting fish eyes from whitebait is one of the oldest kiwi jokes.  One eats every part of the whitebait.  Whitebait is a delicacy.  And very expensive.  In my Mum's day, whitebait weren't expensive at all.  They were, well, cheap as chips.  There is a strict season, very short, when you can harvest them.

Anyway, I went to the Sunday food and vegetable market this last Sunday (the market is alongside Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand) and, wow, there were whitebait fritters there.   $12.  I can take whitebait or leave them, but my Mum loved whitebait.  So in recognition of her love of whitebait fritters, I always try to eat a fritter at the start of each season.

Above: the fritters being fried at the Sunday market.

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