Foodie facts & foil

Malatina Enjoying a green mango otai drink… Yummy

22 Tisema Sapate
Lazy Tongan Sunday punctuated by a trip to the bakery for some yummy fruit mince pies, visiting the free wifi in the park and a drive around the neighbourhood.
We had tried to visit a couple of Tongan friends but they must have all been crashed out somewhere out of hearing even though their doors were wide open. I could see into their houses as the doors were open but there was no one in sight and no response to my ‘Malo e lelei’ calls.
Sunday afternoons are often long siesta marathons and today was no different – so we just let them all be. There is something to be said for a society that doesn’t have shopping as a Sunday family outing.
Watched an interesting little art-house film called ‘Copying Beethoven’… It gave an interesting slant on this amazing deaf composer’s eccentricity. Nice to have a Happy Birthday facetime with my girlfriend Mary in Sydney, plus my sister Tania who was having breakfast with husband Pat in Katoomba and Tracey who was out exercising in not so warm Hobart. We must have snagged a time when everyone was at church so had some good band width 🙂

Polly and Mum with umu foil delivery
Polly and Mum with umu foil delivery

23 Tisema Monite
Off to visit Polly to deliver some cookery gifts from Lesley, a friend from Kingscliff who met her back in September when we were invited to Polly’s family’s home for a Sunday Tongan umu feast (see below). We found Polly busy decorating her front yard for Christmas with ribbons and bows! She is a terrific gardener so we left with bundles of freshly cut herbs and lemons… The car smelt divine.
Food in Tonga can be ‘interesting’. I know our readers think all we do is sit around eating gourmet food… But sometimes that is absolutely NOT the case. Towards the end of the year in the staff room everyone was very excited about a seafood ‘something’ which They slurped up with relish. I passed on this but did enjoy the green mango otai drink.

Sulia slurping an 'interesting' Tongan seafood delicacy...
Sulia slurping an ‘interesting’ Tongan seafood delicacy…

I have done a little research to share with you about the food here. Root vegetables are served at every meal – a bit like bread. The soil has deposits of volcanic ash so is very fertile soil.
Yam (Ufi) is considered the most valuable root crop out of all the root crop family, not because of it’s taste but because of it being the most difficult (labour intensive) root crop to plant and maintain.
Tapioka or Casava (Manioke) is a root crop although we are used to seeing it at home as small white balls that are made into tapioca pudding.
Taro (Talo) roots and also the leaves (lu) are used for the weekly Sunday umu (cooked on hot coals). Lu contains various fillings of meat, fish and coconut milk and cooked in hot coals.
Fruit here is divine and seasonal…just the way it is supposed to be. Paw paw (Lesi) seems to be available all year around along with different types of bananas. The black pawpaw seeds are used as a medicine for stomach problems. At the moment pineapples are everywhere and we are enjoying eating them for breakfast lunch, dinner and as snacks in between!
Coconut (Niu) can be eaten fresh or at various stages.
When freshly picked we have enjoyed the clear juice before breaking open the shell to scrape out the soft flesh.
When a coconut falls from the tree onto the ground, on it’s own accord and has been lying around for a while it starts to slowly degrade over time and starts to dry up. It has less juice and the flesh has gone harder. The flesh can now be scraped out with a special coconut scraper. These shavings are then squeezed to get the coconut cream (loloi niu) out of the coconut shavings.
We have also had coconut another way too. Because the coconut is a seed after a long time of lying around it starts to sprout into a new young coconut tree. The juice has totally disappeared and the centre of the coconut now has a moist marshmellow texture with a very unique coconutish flavour.
It sounds like Australia is warmer than Nuku’alofa as at the moment it is a very pleasant 29 with little humidity… We hope it stays like this for the next couple of weeks.



Categories TongaTags

2 thoughts on “Foodie facts & foil

  1. Great to hear of your recent food research. I wonder what mince pies taste like in Tonga?? Judging from our bakery exp in Oct I imagine they would be very Traditional in the true old fashioned sense and well proportioned. We enjoyed a wonderful coconut delicacy of our own yesterday, with my parents who were visiting for Xmas. It’s the first time we have used a recipe for Pina Colads. OMG how divine!!!!! Much better than my previous made up versions.
    We sipped and made the most of alfresco dining in a truly amazingly warm day in Hobart. I am now totally hooked on this decadent drink and will happily enjoy the fruits of this amazing “Nut” forever more. MMMMMMMM Happy new year to you guys. I imagine the Internet will be busy with eveyone wishing to send seasons greetings, so Happy days to you and Kotoni, enjoy your family time on Fa Fa XXXXX TT


  2. Happy Christmas and merry new year to all you foodies out there in Tongaland — and any non foodies you may happen to trip across — these seem to be in the minority though. Have been reading your escapades with interest and sometimes a little jealousy. Been very warm and humid here. A trawl of the record breaking lights decorating houses and entire streets with Fred LPG Joey Cord and gang the other nite was inspiring.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close