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The Ocean is Calling
For our #WildFoodLove series in celebration of Feast Matariki, #EatNZKaitaki Ella Bailey of Momona Farms shares what her family gets up to when the surf is flat and the kōura/crayfish is calling.
Our family’s wild food gathering location is definitely the ocean. We spend time on the East and West coast beaches of the north island, and own a beloved dive boat called “black dog cat” it assists us in getting to remote locations.
Surfing is our number one hobby but when the conditions are flat and calm we're happy to ditch the surfboards for dive gear and head out on a hunt.
My husband leads the expedition. The organising starts the night before with a stock take of dive gear, bait, cray gloves, and the list goes on. On the day of the hunt we are up early, coffee pot on, sandwiches being made and before we know it we’re backing down the boat ramp. The look of excitement on our faces directly reflects how much we love to connect to the ocean.
We choose a rough location and nosy around the rocks until it feels like the "right spot". Masks and snorkel on, check. Flippers on, check. One by one we fall into the abundant, underwater ecosystem, with gratitude.
The journey of discovery begins. My husband is like a strong kingfish underwater and I can tell the connection he has with his hunter-gatherer ancestry. It’s a beautiful occurrence to witness. He dances to the rhythm of the currents and seems to go into a hunting trance. It’s a challenge to keep up, we all go into our own personal journey of underwater discovery. Free diving, each breath matters and holds new possibilities of finding something interesting and if we’re lucky edible. Finding a cave with a few crays, there’s great excitement, a sense of possibility that we’ll enjoy the fruits of the hunt coming to fruition.
We respectfully take what we can feed our family for the night, this is so important, protecting the ocean’s resources, we start the journey back home to clean and prepare the meal.
I start to think about how we will wine match with the kai moana and how we’ll prepare it.
After washing down the boat and dealing to the gear, the food prep begins. I gut the crays, give them a good clean out, slice them open fresh and lather them with garlic butter. Get the BBQ nice and hot.
I prepare garlic aioli, Freshly dug roasted potatoes, and a simple rocket and parmesan salad.
When the family sits down to eat, there is a huge appreciation for our kai and where it has come from. We feel so lucky.
With Matariki around the corner, I am contemplating the abundant resources the earth provides and how to protect it. Also the knowledge and skills of our ancestors, how and what was foraged, and all that is to be learned.
I look forward to preparing and celebrating Matariki with a family feast and connection.
Words and photos by #EatNZKaitaki Ella Bailey of Momona Farms.