US woman living in New Zealand shares her favourite Kiwi foods - and they might surprise you

Madi Gemmell TikTok screengrabs
Photo credit: @maditheamerican / TikTok

An American woman has revealed her top five favourite foods since relocating to Aotearoa three years ago - and perhaps surprisingly, fish and chips or a classic meat pie didn't make the cut. 

Madi Gemmell, who goes by the username @maditheamerican on TikTok, took to the platform on Monday to discuss her favourite Kiwi kai, with her choices getting a seal of approval from her local viewers. 

In a video that has since amassed over 270,000 views, Gemmell revealed that Twisties were one of her snacks of choice, likening them to their American counterpart, Cheetos. 

"Number five, I'm going to get a lot of disagreement on this, but Twisties. I know you all say they used to taste better and they're not nearly as good as they used to be, but for a girl who's been without her American Cheetos, they hit the spot," she explained.

Rēwena bread ranked fourth for Gemmell, with the expat urging the uninitiated to try the traditional Māori sourdough bread slathered with local butter - "I can just have that plain bread with butter, not even toasted - couldn't do that in America."

In third place, Gemmell waxed lyrical about Whittaker's chocolate - the iconic confection hailing from Porirua - heralding it as "so much higher quality" than the American equivalent. 

"Number two, I seriously love it so much - Wicked Wings from KFC. Also, the chips from KFC - that seasoning is so good. Just in general, the chips here are so much better than those in America."

In a follow-up video, Gemmell unveiled two dishes were tied for the top spot - revealing that hāngī and boil up are her ultimate favourites.

"I just can't pick a favourite... I love them both so much, and people get really surprised when I like it so much. I think you don't see many pakeha people eating and loving it - but what's there not to like?

"With boil up you have meat that's been sitting and all the juices and doughboys and veggies, and hāngī - I think I love it so much because it reminds me of Thanksgiving. That taste is so, so nice."

In the comments, Gemmell said her go-to boil up consists of pork bones, watercress, potatoes and doughboys, and reiterated to several viewers that despite KFC being an American fast-food franchise, the US branches don't typically sell Wicked Wings - a staple of the Kiwi KFC menu.

Hundreds of viewers have applauded Gemmell for encouraging others to try traditional Māori cuisine, with others praising her te reo pronunciation in the comments.

"I love how you're American and can pronounce te reo Māori better than some people who have lived in NZ their whole life," said one, while another declared: "I respect your list so much - ain’t no kaimoana on there, regardless the whole list hits. You're a real one for mentioning doughboys too."

Of course, a few couldn't resist attempting to correct Gemmell's use of the word Aotearoa, with several stressing, "It's New Zealand" - to which she simply responded, "Not on my TikTok page." 

A number of American expats in Aotearoa have gone viral on social media for sharing their opinions on New Zealand culture, including their likes, dislikes and culture shocks.