Waiheke Island is a long way from Gualeguaychu, a city 250 kilometers north-west of Buenos Aires, Argentina, hometown of Paula Veronesi and Ignacio Olaechea.
Ignacio, 28, was first in New Zealand 8 years ago during a break from studies, and traveled around the South Island picking cherries and grapes on a seasonal visa. He persuaded girlfriend Paula to make a trip to New Zealand with him, and they ended up on Waiheke.
“I am really in love with New Zealand and mostly with the people of this country. They are very kind and they are always trying to help you. This time we really enjoyed the experience of picking olives on Waiheke. We met lovely people,” he says.
“But now I must return to Argentina. I am almost a Biologist and I have to present my thesis and get my degree.”
Paula, 21, is also a student and is in the third year of a law degree in Buenos Aires. “2½ more years to go,” she sighs wistfully, “But I also study Chinese Mandarin. I love languages.
“I met Ignacio on a boat in Gualeguaychu. Our parents live there. We go there all the time in summer to enjoy the beach and have fun with our friends. We have been together for 2½ years, but we are not married, yet,” she laughs.
To celebrate the end of the olive harvest, and to taste the newly crushed oil, a feast was called for. When Ignacio turned up with the proceeds of an afternoon’s hunting, we knew exactly what to do: Pig on the spit Argentinian style.
Ignacio recounts, “In Argentina I always go hunting. I started hunting with my father when I was really young and now hunting, fishing and camping is part of my life. I was excited to have the opportunity to go hunting with friends on Waiheke. We caught 3 pigs in Orapiu and I scored one! The weight of the pig was 19 kg, without the guts, skin and the head, not too big.
Sometimes it is better to shoot a female because the males have some smell when they are in heat. We got females! Sweet meat!
“We prepared the pig with salt and some garlic, poking it in holes in the front and back legs and cooked it for 5/6 hours, leaving the back legs to cook a little longer while we carved up the rest of the meat.
“The only consideration you need to have with the wood is not to use a smelly one, like pine for example, because the meat will get that taste.
“Shooting pigs on Waiheke was a good experience because they represent a problem to the owners of the vineyards and olives groves. Hunting these pigs was pretty easy. In Argentina they are hard to find, and in general they are bigger than here,” he concludes.
The final word must go to Paula, “We were born in the same city. The food is the same but in Ignacio’s house they always eat more meat than in my house. My mother always makes a lot of salads, pasta, etc. The typical food in Argentina is the ASADO (meat barbecue). Lots and lots of meat! I liked the harvest feast with the beautifully cooked tender pork meat, but I loved the salads just as much as the meat.”