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KaiJune 26, 2017

The Spinoff Reviews New Zealand #35: Cooked Taro in Wellington


We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. This time, Pani Chapman (staff writer Madeleine Chapman’s mum) reviews the best cooked taro in Wellington.

I’m always looking out for the best cooked taro in Wellington because taro is my favourite food. My children try to tell me that it’s the blandest food in the world but I don’t listen because sometimes bland is good. It doesn’t look very nice but neither does kumara, or potatoes. I like to have taro with everything – coconut cream, curry, ramen, chop suey. When I remember I like to BYO a taro when we go out to eat because it always adds something to the meal.

The best way to make sure your cooked taro is good is to cook it yourself. But sometimes when you’re out shopping you just want a snack and have to buy your taro already cooked. It’s not easy to find. But don’t worry, because Super Save (Seki-A) Supermarket sells the best cooked taro in the Wellington region.

It seems to me that the other places don’t cook their good taro. This is just a theory but I’m pretty sure I’m right. To start with, most raw taro is good. But when it gets days old, it gets dry. And when taro gets dry, it’s not very good. I think most places try to sell their whole taros and then whatever they can’t sell, they cook it and sell it as cooked taro. Pak’n’Save used to cook their good taro but after visiting there today, I’m sorry to say that they aren’t good anymore. Where they used to roast the taro and have them in the heater for customers to pick out, they now wrap them in those plastic containers which makes the taro soggy.

Pani Chapman reaches for the good taro

Sometimes when you buy cooked taro from a dairy, they’re good to you and give an extra piece. But when the taro’s not very good, why would you want another piece? Sometimes they even have a stringiness that means they’re over a day old. In Samoan we call that toeitiiti mafu. Mafu means stale and toeitiiti means nearly. For example, toeitiiti lo tuta lou gutu means I nearly come there and smack your mouth for answering back. Toeitiiti: not yet but getting close.

The taro at the Super Save Supermarket is not toeitiiti mafu. It’s baked fresh and is kept in the heater where they keep the pies. It’s also the cheapest at $8.99 a kilo. Some dairies sell their toeitiiti mafu taro for as much as $12.99 a kilo but sometimes I buy it anyway because I love taro and Taita is quite far from my house.

Verdict: Malo lava Super Save Supermarket for keeping your cooked taro fresh.

Good or bad: Good.

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