Rhonda is a professional cook. She and Henry own The Mountain Range gourmet food & catering company in BC. She is also a camping guide and cook, so she can make great food with limited access to stores, by planning ahead and using local ingredients. She made awesome pizza, pasta, salads, dahl and pappadum, and much more. Once Henry made taro leaf mixed with coconut milk: YUM! Taro is a root vegetable similar to yams, but you can eat the leaves too. The fresh veggies have to be ordered ahead of time and make the 6 hr journey on the weekly run of the Y II boat (but they are expensive).
For breakfast, she sometimes made French toast, yoghurt, or fresh bread, once Henry made Bannock bread, but one thing was always there: fresh fruit!
On our second day on Tavewa, we went mango picking. In that area, it was the end of the mango season, but there were still A LOT of mangoes. I thought that you have to pick the mangoes off the trees, but instead you pick the ones that aren’t rotting off the ground.
The mango jam went great with fresh bread and toast. Freshly cut mango was a favourite on cereal! I’m not really a grapefruit person, but those Fijian “Poor man’s oranges” (what they call them there) were delicious! So were the limes, oranges, passion fruits and pineapples. Local, delicious, juicy and healthy. They also keep you very regular at the outhouse!
When Henry was growing up on Tavewa, his family made their living from a coconut plantation. They sold the dried meat (copra). My favourite part about coconuts is that you can get so many different kinds of food from one nut! If you get a very young coconut, you get nice jelly and juice. Then the juice ferments and becomes fizzy. Then it dries up and becomes hard meat. You then grate the coconut to get the shavings.
Steps for coconuts
1. Find coconut on the ground. Shake to check for juice inside.
2. Husk coconut by whacking it on long pointy stick.
3. Cut coconut in half using machete.
4. If coconut is young, pour juice into a glass. Then spoon out jelly.
5. If coconut is dry, scrape out meat using coconut scraper.
6. Use in cooking or enjoy on its own!
I think I got pretty good at scraping coconuts by the time we left! Coconut was great in cereal, bread, smalads (Jake will explain in upcoming blog), and much more. In a village we visited, we bought some cold pressed coconut oil, which the locals use in their hair and also cooking. It smells delicious! We learned from Rhonda that coconut is very healthy. You can see why climbing a coconut tree is a good skill to have if you ever get stranded on an island! A source of hydration, nutrition and deliciousness.
Another local Tavewa food: Heart of palm.
Tavewa is a place of fresh fruit and delicious food. We definitely did not go hungry! One thing I know is that fruit in Canada will never be the same after having the real thing in Fiji. Bon Appetit!