Food

Snippets of Fiji (3)

Bavu is a small village, located in the Nadronga Navosa district in Fiji. Living there for a month, I got to experience Fijian hospitality at it’s best.

A typical Fijian family has 4 people, although some families can be quite large (up to 7 family members). Regardless of that, the people in Bavu treat each other like a large extended family, where everyone knows and treats each other like family.

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To my Fijian foster family, thank you for making me feel at home for 1 month. I love you guys and I’ll miss you. Clockwise from top left: Molly (daughter), Semi (Molly’s nephew), Sitiveni (father), and Tailewa (mother).

To say that the villagers genuinely love people is the simplest way I can put it. If you’re walking down the road, chances are you’ll hear “BULA!!” (the Fijian hello) coming from anyone in the area. If you happen to be outside their front door, they’ll invite you in for a chat, and even offer you snacks to boot. Their curiosity about the world beyond their own is a deep, one not easily satiated even with them living in the paradise that is Fiji.

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His name is Caleb, also happens to be one of our neighbors. Plucking and eating coconuts from trees during teatime with this man, good times :DD

The children are a source of wonder and joy to be with.  They love to play with you, and literally anything can turn into a game with them. Frisbee? No problem. Rugby ball? Touch rugby. A ball? Soccer, hot potatoes, or anything you can name. Nothing on hand? Tag, or any kind of running, the possibilities are endless with them.

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My mates Sahirah and Rhianna swamped with kids. It happens all the time 😀

 

Speaking of food (to me, a good meal is a good bribe), Fijian cuisine is very simple and carb-heavy. Their staple food consists of cassava (or tapioca depending where you’re from), and a side dish of some sort. My personal favourite is Fijian spinach mixed with tuna, cooked in coconut milk and onions. Other side dishes include Irish stew (yes, it’s identical), Indian style dhal and roti, or even the occasional curry flavored instant noodle.

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Taken from our farewell feast, food is being laid out for the children. Coconut and onion Fijian spinach and roti can be seen in the right, lovo style chicken, cassava and stew on the left. Simple but delicious.

 

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Some strange variant of scone that Tailewa made for us one evening. They taste pretty good with butter and tea :d

However, for special occasions, Fijians use a lovo, an earth oven made by heating rocks to high temperatures, then burying the food (chicken or fish marinated with soy sauce, garlic and onions, and cassava) under a pile of banana leaves for about an hour or so. The result of the lovo  style of cooking is meat that is both tender, juicy, and flavorful, and even the normal cassava becomes that much more delicious, reminiscent of baked potatoes, albeit with a slight earthly twist to it.

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My man Semi preparing his first lovo. Note the chicken and cassava sitting on top of the coals.

 

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That’s Kini and Sulu (Semi’s uncle and aunt) covering up the lovo. The cooking time on one of these earth ovens is about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The preparation of a lovo is seen as a rite of passage among the males of my foster clan, where a feast with the clan elders and honored guests afterwards seals the deal. This rite ensures that the man is not only capable of providing for his family through hard work, but also through shouldering his wife’s burden in the kitchen.

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An hour later, the lovo is opened and the food taken out. Note that the cassava takes on a browned appearance. With a texture like baked potato, an amazing yet simple earthly taste, props to you, Semi!!

Now that I think about it, in all my travels, some of the friendliest and family-vibey people all live in Bavu. I envy them being able to enjoy the simplest things in life, like good fun and food. This being a hybrid article, I ask if any of you have been to places with similar folk or similar food? Let me know in the comments and have a wonderful day!!

 

 

 

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