Welcome back to Metro's incredibly irregular series, What I Ate. This week, former Shortland St star and current Pop Up Globe actor James Maeva walks us through a week of petrol station snacks and fresh fruit and veg - hey, it's all about balance.
Me and food have a love-hate relationship at times. I do believe that food is always been somewhat of a comfort option for me. Currently I'm working at the Pop-up Globe here in Auckland and with such a busy schedule for two shows my eating habits have become somewhat more of a takeaways habit…
Before I shoot off to work I make sure to have my fruit in mornings. No matter what I eat during my days, I always keep fruits and water as my daily starters. It's my skincare, hair care and psychological care all in one. Bananas, apples, heaps of grapes – with the occasional slice or two of peanut butter on toast. I like to make sure I hydrate myself in the morning before I leave home just to get myself ready for the physical demands of my day, so breakfast is always followed up by lots of water. There was a time I started my days with coffee but I would get carried away with sugar, so I cut the coffee and sugar from my mornings.
I tend to grab a pre-packed lunch just to save time on the way to work, which at the moment usually means stopping into a petrol station on my way to the playhouse. Our workdays are pretty intense, with a lot of combat training and dancing to learn alongside our Shakespearian lines, so convenience and efficiency is the name of the game during the day for me as we get closer to opening night. Ducking into a petrol station makes sense – fuel for the car, and fuel for me! I’ve got no brand loyalty though, so hit the local BP and Z stations pretty evenly, depending on how I’m feeling that day, especially as Z have a good range of salads on rice. BP also have a pretty tasty lunch line-up: their cheese pineapple mayo and onion toasted sandwich is pretty good or a classic vegan pie.
I was fulltime vegan for just over 2 years, and I have managed to keep a lot of the great habits I formed while eating only plant-based foods. I do tend to add more greens, reds, oranges and other beautiful colours of fruits and vegetables to my diet now, which I love. But now I’m no longer vegan, one of my favourite things to pick up on the go is a pepperoni, brie and pesto panini from Prontos Eatery in Greenlane. These guys are great because they're located within a short stroll from Pop Up Globe.
I fancy myself a bit of a home chef, so try to make dinner as much as possible, inspired by as many tasty cuisines as I can manage. Some of my go-to’s are homemade burritos; red kidney beans, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes and loads of cheese. I also love a classic roast – there’s nothing better than roast vegetables; potatoes, kumara and carrots paired with steamed broccoli and a small portion of roast chicken. My heritage is from the Cook Islands, so I love to cook traditional food from the islands too. Roast chicken goes really well with Cook Island potato salad called Mainese. This salad is usually comparable to a potato and egg salad, made with homemade mayo, potatoes, beetroot and topped with grated egg. Cook Islands donuts are also amazing with this salad as well! Cook island donuts have a typical donut shape but are more similar to the taste of Māori fried bread, and best served as a side to savoury dishes.
As the week goes on, and I get more tired after rehearsals, the delivery menus of some classics start looking very tempting… I'm obviously no longer exclusively vegan, so Supreme and Simply Cheese pizzas from Dominos are back on my menu after a long day! I’ve also just learnt how to use Uber Eats this past week, and that's where all the takeaway danger started! The first thing I ordered on my Uber Eats trial was Burger King. I have no idea why Burger King? I guess I was just more curious to see it delivered, which resulted in an unnecessary triple Whopper combo.
My weekends are a little different at the moment as Saturdays are currently spent rehearsing at the Pop-up Globe for the incredible farewell season dubbed the "Summer of Love" so my eating adjusts to match. A typical Saturday brekky would consist of some kind banana or apple combo, and water. Rehearsals would often take up the lunch slot, so I keep my lunch just strictly to water and I would then have an early dinner on Saturdays. That would then leave me the evening to settle into a bottle of Jacob’s Creek classic merlot. Just a couple glasses does the trick after a six-day week.
I typically would have taken my beautiful lady out the night before to watch a show in the city at the likes of Basement Theatre or Q theatre. Usually, we eat before a show which would often have us lean towards a falafel kebab with garlic mayo and hummus from Kebabs on Queen. Kebabs are one of my favourite foods to line my stomach for the coming drinks later that night. I’m a huge socialite! So I’m always staying for post-show talks and drinks with cast and crew. Those that know me will confirm how much I love to chat, laugh and occasionally take selfies and pics with others and hope they don’t look too tragic to post on Facebook.
Sunday brunch is often recovery food as the effects of the 2'ish-10'ish wines would be hurting my head the next morning! Now I’m on Uber Eats, this means delicious food delivered to my door – I swear I may have to avoid this app otherwise I may never cook again! One dish I’m happy to have available via app is Yokum burgers from a food bar in Papatoetoe called Lil Abners. These burgers are basically filled with chicken, herb stuffing and mayonnaise in a parcel made with eggs and served in between buns with lettuce and tomatoes. Yokum burgers have been in and out of my diet for over 15 years or so now. These burgers are so big they aren't necessarily good for the waistline but they are great value for money, very filling and they are open till the early hours of the next morning. I did have break from them while I processed my way through veganism but they have managed to re-enter my life lately. Sunday is also my time to eat any treats like ice cream or chocolates before I get back to the working week the next day.
James Maeva is an actor in Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing, playing at the Pop-up Globe. Performances as part of their Summer of Love season begin on December 7.