Hell in a hamcart: New Zealand’s descent into a fiery pit of food fury

Only a few days ago, all was quiet and calm. And then, out of the blue, a series of culinary news stories hit that soon had New Zealand frothing at the mouth. Tara Ward reviews the wreckage.

New Zealand, we need to talk. We’ve gone mad. Food mad.

Last week, we were hit with a barrage of news stories about Kiwi food experiences gone wrong, and we hoovered them up like a nation of starving toddlers. There was chaos on the streets and anarchy in the drive-thru, and we couldn’t get enough. Ham sandwiches to the left of me, grumpy pies to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with ragu.

We’re hangry, New Zealand, and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.

Blame? Who am I kidding, this was the best week of my life. We were truly blessed with this all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of weird and wonderful food-rage stories, and I pray to our sweet Lord Jo Seagar that it never ends. These tasty nightmares struck a chord, and showed that yes, we can reveal our feelings about the stuff that matters. Thank you, New Zealand, for taking a photo of a shitty sandwich and making it international news. You did us proud.

New Zealand is just one big food fight at the moment, so let’s take a look back at the winners and losers of this bottomless buffet of food fury.

Someone eats a ham sandwich with hardly any ham

This sandwich saga whipped us into such a frenzy that we began frothing at the mouth and screaming “HAM” in our sleep. Some poor bastard discovered what disappointment tastes like, after they paid $3.50 for a sandwich from a Papakura bakery that was nothing more than two skimpy ham-tangles of broken hopes and dreams.

It touched us, Aotearoa. It touched us deep in our porky cores.

Why? Because life is one big ham sandwich with no ham. It stares us blankly in the face and then laughs at us like only tiny pieces of ham can. People were outraged, while others pulled out their abacuses to refute the evidence, mumbling something about bread symmetry and questioning the whereabouts of the rest of the sandwich. Excuse me, just calling David Lomas from Lost and Found to solve this mystery once and for all.

Anyhoo, the woman still ate the sandwich and the bakery denied everything, but it raises a bigger question: who can we trust in this world? Bakers? Obviously not. Pigs? They’re in on it too. This entire shitfest confirms we’re going to hell in a hamcart, and mark me, when Armageddon comes, it’ll be eating a sandwich that looks exactly like this fucker.

Winner: Hoani from the Papakura & Takanini Facebook page. “Shit like this makes me crazy,” he wrote, and put it on a t-shirt, chuck it on a cake, slap it between two bready curtains of deceit and call it a snack, Hoani.

People complain about their meal and the restaurant politely tells them to fuck off

Where would we be without Trip Advisor? That’s another mystery for David Lomas, but in the meantime, let’s doff our ham caps at Plume Restaurant in Matakana. They let rip after receiving a stink online review from a customer who alleged there was no beef in his ragu and his pasta was “so overcooked the oldies wouldn’t need their dentures”.

Plume was bloody seething, because nobody puts their ragu in the corner and gets away with it. They fired back by accusing the customer of slamming their “heavy restaurant wooden door” and telling a staff member he wanted to “fist him in the mouth”. How many times, New Zealand? Always save the fisting chit-chat until after the cheese course.

Winner: Plume, because it’s time somebody took a stand for old people with false teeth.

Man only wants meat

The Plume Guy should’ve taken his GrabOne voucher to Napier’s Rice Canteen, where the smorgasbord heaves with so much beef that you can hear it moo. It was a dream come true for meat-loving Brad, who wanted to bypass all the vegetables and stick solely to the beef. Story of my life, Brad, but Rice Canteen wasn’t having any of it. The owner banged a spoon, Brad left sans meat, and we all died a little more inside.

Winner: Rice Canteen, for making sure broccoli doesn’t get an inferiority complex.

Good pies, shit customer service

This was the story that opened Pandora’s box of feral foodness, and we haven’t looked back since. The Springfield Store and Cafe is home to some award-winning pies and the “rudest woman in New Zealand”, which is apparently a bad thing. Exsqueeze me, our entire nation is built on pies and rude women. How bad can it be?

Hello, I’m David Lomas, and Trip Advisor tells us a story or two. “The devil is perhaps friendlier” remarked one bitter pastry-hater, while from an Australian visitor to our fair shores:

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Listen, you got your hot pockets of meaty goodness, what’s the problem? Chuck it in your piehole, let’s all move on.

Winner: pies, everywhere.

A McDonald’s 24 hour drive-thru in Hamilton shut early and the staff don’t want to hear you cry about it

Seems fair.

Winner: nobody.


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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