About the food of Fiji (a.k.a. how to live a good life)

“Bula” my dear friends.

That’s Fijian for “Hello, live life fully.”

And I really mean it. I hope you take risks – get the courage to talk to your cute neighbor, be brave enough to speak up when someone is in need, and spread love with every action.

Make an effort to look past the superficial. In the wake of the sunami, which set Fiji on red alert this weekend, Fijians certainly were not worried about what brand shoes they were wearing (if they ever worried about this at all). They were cherishing each moment – each second – with family and loved ones.

Yes, wake up each morning and say “Bula.” Your conviction will be contagious. And eat some Fijian food while you’re at it. You’ll be delighted by the variety …

A tidal sandbar connects Waya and Wayasewa Islands| Coconut Tree

Fan-curry-tastic

Because she was a former British colony, British-ruled Indians came to Fiji and spread a love for all things curry. My eyes almost fell out when I read that they happen to love curried corned beef (you know, what with St. Patty’s day coming up this week) [Recipe] made with what else besides homemade curry powder [Recipe].

It’s true, I read it in Lonely Planet Fiji.

I also came across a story about cans of corned beef washing up on Fiji’s shores years ago, but I can’t seem to retrace my steps back to that source. Regardless, corned beef makes it’s way into many meals, including lunch – cooked in taro leaves or scooped up with roti bread.

Navala in the Nausori Highlands

Starchy Staples

Fijians love taro, cassava, yam, breadfruit, and rice. Exact popularity varies with each ethnic group. If so desired, an entire meal could be a carb lover’s dream.

Coconut Crazy

Seems like every Fijian recipe I saw had some form of coconut in it. There’s the local ceviche, called kokoda [Recipe], made with coconut milk, lime juice, peppers and more. Then, there’s the ever popular polynesian dessert – bananas barely warmed through in sweetened coconut milk [Recipe]. And that’s just the beginning. Coconut water is everywhere… for good reason – it’s healthy and refreshing.

Center of town in Sigatoka

Intoxicate and Celebrate

If you’re a guest of honor, you might be offered kava, a somewhat intoxicating drink made from a plant related to the pepper bush, traditionally served out of a coconut shell.

The drink has a mildly numbing effect on the teeth and the tongue but otherwise it had no noticeable effects on us. According to some sources, it is meant to make you feel relaxed, de-stressed and sleepy, but since for me that just about sums up the whole Fiji effect it’s hard to tell.

- Sam Breach Becks Posh Nosh

Guests of honor might also be invited to take part in a meal baked underground, in a lovo oven. Lovo ovens are popular throughout polynesia.  The entire meal – fish, starch, and veggies are buried underground, in the lovo.  When the leaves (or dirt) are removed, the food parcels are said to suddenly fill the air with wonderful aromas. Enticed diners pick through the food and fill their plate. Fun!

Last Resort

If none of these dishes are to your liking, keep on sipping from your water bottle. You know, the one with “Fiji” plastered all over it.

I still love ya.

Photos: Erlebnishengst, Doron, Merbabu, Maxim75, CIA World Factbook.
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Comments

  1. When do we depart for Fiji?!?

  2. What perfect timing for St. Patrick’s day with all the corned beef! Is it possible to make/find corned beef without nitrates??

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Yes, I purchased one at Whole Foods. Wellshire Farms brand (It may be the only one they carry, unless they make it fresh at the deli too.) They didn’t have anything at the deli on Friday, but they might now, since it’s closer to St. Patty’s Day.

    • Trader Joe’s also sells corned beef without nitrates. I picked one up the other day.

  3. I read about a dish called Palusami that combines lots of the highlights you discussed above. You take taro leaves, wrap them around a filling made of coconut milk, onions, and meat (such as canned corned beef), and cook them in an oven fueled by hot rocks (or under your broiler). Canned corned beef is popular in that part of the world. I took some when I visited very remote tribes in New Guinea and they loved it! They saved the can as a souvenir.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I love that they saved the can – and Palusami sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing your travels with us Brian.

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