All posts filed under: Solomon Islands

Monday Meal Review: Solomon Islands

Ava’s been saying something disturbing lately. If a toy breaks, she says “let’s buy a new one.” If fruit sits too long in the basket and gets mushy, she says “let’s go to the grocery store.” She says these things, even with a father who shows her how to build and repair her toys in the garage … Even with a mother who teaches her how to make apple pies with bruised apples. Maybe she says it less than some children, but I’m still concerned, and I’m at a loss with how to handle it. Our week cooking the Solomon Islands brought the issue into clear relief. In the Solomon Islands, food is incredibly difficult to grow. There’s mountains. Monsoons.  On the remote islands, locals might have to row to another island just to get to the grocery store. You get the drift. Food is not to be wasted. Families must make due with what they have. This includes eating green papaya and grated cassava, wrapped up in banana leaves, some of the rare indigenous foods. So, …

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Green PawPaw Curry

It’s just as important to be frugal in times of plenty as it is in times of hardship. As my mom likes to say “Waste not, want not.” In the Solomon Islands, when Papaya trees hang heavy with more fruit than locals know what to do with, they don’t let it rot and fall to the ground. They don’t let the monsoons sweep the fruit away, either. Oh, no. Instead, they make use of the papaya at every stage of growth… ripe or unripe… which is how PawPaw Curry makes its way onto the dinner table. While the sweet flesh of ripe papaya is grand (perhaps baked with sweet coconut cream?), pawpaw curry is made with the mild, firm flesh of an unripe papaya. A green papaya. Unlike the deep orange interiors of their ripe sisters, green papayas are pastel on the inside, just barely dawning with orange.  The flesh is mild in flavor and takes on the personality of whatever ingredients they are cooked with. In this case, curry and coconut milk makes for …

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Cassava Pudding

I secretly love it when a word like “pudding” takes on a whole new meaning than “the sweet chocolate goop  found in the refrigerator cases of American supermarkets” (although I do enjoy that sort of pudding as much as the next sugar crazed mom). I love surprises like this because they teach me not to take so much for granted. They remind me that there are people all over this beautiful world who have different ways of doing things. And, in case you didn’t get the memo, different is a beautiful thing. Imagine how boring our world would be if we all looked the same, talked the same, and… ate the very same pudding? In Solomon Islands and throughout Oceania, pudding is any goupy mixture that’s been grated and baked. Or sometimes steamed. Confused? Let’s get specific. The most popular pudding in Solomon Islands is Cassava Pudding. This is more of a savory cake than pudding.  It’s made with grated cassava, sweet potato, and coconut milk. The whole shebang is traditionally baked all afternoon in …

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Menu: Solomon Islands

When wind, ice rain, and snow blast our home, I shut my eyes and escape to Solomon Islands for a little imagination vacation. It doesn’t become real, though, until I try the food. What I find, more than anything else, is that the traditional food relies heavily on that which can grow on the islands. This is limited to staples like coconut, papaya, taro, sweet potatoes, and cassava. There would have been a time when 80% of these ingredients would have scared me off. Not because there’s anything wrong with them,* but because I would have no idea what to do with them. Heck. I wouldn’t have even known what they were. But, this is our 160th country.  After this week, there’s only 36 weeks left. I’m not scared any more. I’m excited. Curious. Open. So here’s what we made. All recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week. PawPaw Curry [Recipe] Take green papaya (a.k.a. not ripe) and cook it down with sweet onion, coconut milk, and a blast of homemade curry powder. …

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Children outside Tuo school, Fenualoa, Reef Islands, Solomon Islands. Photo by Pohopetch.

About the food of the Solomon Islands

This week’s country meets the ocean with two faces. On one side are her cliffs, razor sharp and formidable  On the other are gentle slopes. The two are connected by a central spine of mountains. This is the Solomon Islands, a collection of islands to the northeast of Australia, just east of Papua New Guinea. In this tropical land, many houses are built on stilts and about 80% of islanders live in the boondocks. The Pacific Ocean is as much a valued friend, relied on for nourishment in the form of fish, lobster, and crustaceans, as it is an inestimable danger in times of storm or tsunami. Finding information about food on the islands required quite a bit of detective work, which ultimately led me to a fascinating collection of blogs created by volunteers visiting the islands. Of these, Stilettos in the Solomons gave the most helpful overviews (and had the most intriguing name). Like much of the Pacific, crops are limited to what can grow along rugged mountains, not to mention they must be hardy enough to …

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