Following up on foods as cultural ambassadors...
People might already associate New Zealand with kiwis, though they're probably thinking of the birds when they do so.* Yet when I think of kiwis, those bright green fleshy fruits, the first thing I think of is, Gosh darnit those things are a pain to peel! No matter how hard you try, you inevitably get some of that brown peachy fuzz (kiwi fuzz?) in your fruit somewhere. And, unless you're a master kiwi peeler, peeling kiwis generally results in a lot of wasted kiwi flesh clinging to the brown fuzzy skin. Word on the street is that the skin is edible, but I've tried before, and let me tell you, it might be edible, but it doesn't go down easy.
If you've never had the privilege of peeling a kiwi, imagine peeling an apple, where the skin has no natural proclivity for separating from the flesh (like, say, in citrus fruits), but where the flesh is soft and yielding (unless hard and unripe, in which case you probably don't want to bother to eat it at all), like a mango. Over the years, I've variously tried to slice the fruit into rounds, then unpeel each round (brown fuzz penetrates to green flesh; peeling still takes off more flesh than necessary); pare skin off flesh with a knife (brown fuzz penetrates to green flesh; hard to take off skin without taking off extra flesh); and, what is probably the most successful (though least adaptable to various serving purposes) method, cut the kiwi in half, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
I hardly think, whether technically accurate or not, synonymously associating one's country with an exotic and delicious yet pain-in-the-ass to peel fruit is appealing to anyone. Come to think of it, though, perhaps it is a rather apropos metaphor for New Zealand itself: exotic and beautiful, but, from most places in the world, a pain in the ass to get to.
Enter the kiwiberry, my package for which proclaimed it a "sweet tasting, healthy super snack that is ready to eat... just like a grape!"
And it's true. These little suckers are just like kiwis, sans fuzzy brown skin inconvenience. Rinse, pop in your mouth (or slice to get the full kiwi beauty effect), and you're good to go! Now, if only getting to New Zealand were so easy...
*Then again, maybe not. I'm inclined to believe that more people are familiar with the kiwi fruit rather than the kiwi bird, though, technically speaking, it's the bird that is the symbol for New Zealand, not the fruit.