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COOKING NATURALLY Maori tradition forbids accurate representation of the human form. But the rough-hewn wooden figures lining the ancestral hall at the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, with their bulging eyes and protruding tongues, still manage to make their intentions known. "It's a threatening gesture, meaning, 'I'm going to eat you,'" explains Justin, my Maori guide.

The preferred cooking method would probably have been boiling: this Maori village, home to about 70, sits among geothermally heated pools and is periodically sprayed by two spectacular geysers. These days, locals sell freshly boiled sweet corn, plucked from the simmering pools and naturally seasoned by sulfur...

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