|Numalin Mahana during a food training on Tanna Island, |
Vanuatu. Photo by VKS.
Island food is our everyday lifestyle in the Pacific - sweet fresh banana, taros, kumara or kaukau as we know it in PNG, kulau, and hundreds of kumu. Only the language has shifted from island food to slow food.
Leo's posts on facebook between the hours of 11:00am and 2:00pm are just the sort that catches facebook uses at the right hour and sends them off to eateries in Suva, Port Vila or Port Moresby. Numalin on the other hand makes sure the larger populations of Vanuatu remain healthy and hold fast their tradition of which island food plays an important part.
Slow food is what it is. It is slow. It takes about 9-10 months to grow yams. It takes over an hour to cook these yams once harvested. And it takes nice slow eating because it has not been processed for quick swallows.
|Leo Nainoka making a point during the Madang |
Wansolwara Dance. Photo by Milton Kwaipo
Slow is about a lifestyle - it is about looking after our health. The process of planting and waiting for the yam to grow and to mature is a long wait. So what do people do in that space of time? For islanders we spend in the bush with birds and trees or we go to the sea and enjoy the cooling experience of the seas while we catch a fish or two for dinner. Then in the evenings we tell stories, for some of us we take a couple of bowls of kava and we tell more stories and we go to sleep.
The cooking takes long because we are cooking ourselves. We know exactly what we are cooking. There is coconut milk, there is some salt, water fetched from this part of the river and we have saved the head for the next planting season. When we sit around the pot of yams, our plates are filled. Some evenings we choose to eat just yams. Then we talk about the new gardens we are making, the seeds we will need and there in our midst are our young, listening quietly as they finish up their meals.
Island food is a whole way of being. It is about our health, our sovereignty, our sustenance and its about us - a people.