Monday Meal Review: Vanuatu

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httpv://youtu.be/Dedk-cZn6dI Last week someone asked me if I was going to cook with rocks because that's how they cook in Vanuatu. It was a fair question and one that, about two years ago, would have gotten me all sweaty and stressed out. I would have asked myself if I was treating the people of Vanuatu fairly by not  digging a pit in my back yard, scavenging large rocks from local hiking trails, then cooking the meal beneath our Oklahoma red dirt. But now, three years and seven months … [Read more...]

Recipe: Green Papaya Salad

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  What do you do when you're running low on inspiration? Do you sip a cup of tea, take a walk, paint, write a poem, cook something? Or do you freeze up, unable to create? Writing a book for the last several months has had an interesting effect on my brain-space. The book is incredibly daunting and takes all my creative juices. I find myself sopping through my house like a wrung out rag. I once read that we are only capable of making a certain number of decisions each day. After … [Read more...]

Recipe: Sweet Potato Simboro

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It only takes five minutes of grating sweet potatoes to make me wax poetic on the brilliance of the food processor. Friends, I certainly don't have biceps of steel. Most days, I don't even see my biceps beneath the jiggle. Today's recipe for Simboro gave them a work out. I first learned about Simboro from a reader named Benjamin who spent some time in Vanuatu. This comforting side dish is made with a grated starch, like cassava, sweet potato, or yam, wrapped in "island cabbage," then … [Read more...]

Menu: Vanuatu

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"A woman is like a stick you throw." Proverb from Vanuatu On the surface, this proverb from Vanuatu does not exactly sound flattering. But it turns out it is. In fact, it's a term of endearment. In Vanuatu, there's a plant called nanggalat, which takes root and thrives wherever you throw it - even on the jagged edge of a cliff.  Comparing a woman to a thrown stick - in Vanuatu - is saying she can adapt and thrive anywhere. (Source) It's all about context. This week we're making two … [Read more...]

About the Food of Vanuatu

Port Vila treescape, Vanuatu. Photo by Phillip Capper.

Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. But what about those who live in wood, bamboo, and palm leaf houses?  In the 80 islands that make up Vanuatu, the hot, humid weather makes for an entirely different living experience, one where - traditionally speaking - thatched roofs keep out the rain instead of tile. While stones aren't exactly thrown, in Vanuatu they are heated and piled on top of food. This traditional method is typical of Oceania. Lap lap the most notable of … [Read more...]