Opossum Hot Pot: Cooking at the Margins in Colonial New Zealand

Lydia Wevers


One of the most famous and well-read accounts of colonial life in New Zealand is Lady Barker’s Station Life in New Zealand in which she provides rich detail of daily life in the 1860s. Describing Christmas Day 1866, Lady Barker noted that it “is a point of honour to have as little mutton as possible on these occasions, as the greater treat is the complete change of fare.” She didn’t go as far as Opossum Hot Pot (“Skin and clean opossum and cut into pieces, removing backbone for a few inches up from the tail”), or even eel pie, but like most mid-century women in the colonies she struggled to provide nourishing food that resembled British culinary traditions. This paper looks at the stress points of colonial cooking in New Zealand, reading the provision of food as one of the primary borderlands of conflicting cultures, culinary desires, taboos and appetites.


History; Colonialism; Cooking

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Works Cited

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