Families go into debt for these huge feasting food fiesta extravaganzas. It is all about the food in Tonga. Church members are allocated a table or two and have to provide meals (up to four meals each day for five days) for conference goers days who are a random bunch from all over the world.
This weeks conference is for the Free Wesleyan Church which is also the King’s church so competition is fierce to make the tables extra special.
The bare paddock next to the King’s church is laid out with marquees and long banquet tables and stools… It is a vast space that will hold 100s.
Some of the teachers and students have been here all night preparing everything from Lobsters Thermidor to Exotic Chocolate cakes for a paying church goer who can afford to outsource. They often provide the ingredients such as huge prawns which are not available in Tonga. Again it is all about one up man ship. It doesn’t matter that the school fees are not paid or their own kids go without… as long as their allocated church conference table is abundant and overflowing with edible goodies.
Everything down to the tablecloths and cutlery and crockery are competitively arranged. We helped deliver some of the food to the site. It has an air of a carnival and if one didn’t know the huge costs and positive gluttony that went on at these swills it would seem quite OK.
Each church is allocated a week for the feasting. The signs of a conference about to start include flights and ferries booked out, lots of palangis wandering around, eggs becoming more scarce, exotic and expensive fruits like plump foreign grapes surface in the market and Tongans look exhausted from their all night cooking frenzies. At least the weather is cooler at the moment so food health risks are minimised. Saying that we have heard it is not unknown for a guest or two to keel over during conference week. I can only assume that it is from over indulged tummy stretching. Jenny Craig would be run out of business in Tonga.