My best friend, when I was small, was Dutch. The great thing about having a friend from another country is you are introduced to delicious food you might not otherwise come across – especially in small-town New Zealand in the ’80s.
The nights her mum made her signature spicy chicken, I would hang around the kitchen perimeter, big-eyed, urchin-like, willing a dinner invitation.
I also hung around for vegetable broth and fluffy pancakes, dusted with icing sugar. And, when the family’s parcel from Holland arrived each Christmas, I’d help my best friend eat her way through the chocolate cherries, salty liquorice and impossibly thin ginger biscuits.
One day, I was introduced to sauerkraut. I wasn’t sure what to make of this slightly salty, slight sour pickled cabbage so I added it to the growing list of foods I liked but only had at Marja’s house.
Now, quite a few years later, I am delighted that I can not only buy sauerkraut at my local supermarket, I can buy its Korean counterpart kimchi, and a heap of variations, from pickled raw beetroot to cabbage with seaweed and kale.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha or kefir are being embraced these days, not just because they taste great, but for the healthy bacteria they can populate our guts with.
One of the lead stories in Healthy Food Guide this month explores the science behind health claims about fermented foods – covering everything from depression, anxiety and inflammation to allergies and weight loss.
If you’re a convert by the end of the feature, you can start making your own fermented foods with the super easy kombucha recipe we’ve included.
Let me know how it goes and feel free to send me in pictures of your komucha brew: [email protected]