Next up: Tonga. While I’ve never claimed to be a geography whiz (BLT ended up in Turkey because I thought it was close to Germany…), I know enough to know that Tonga is NOT next to Poland. What gives?
This is what: I really like Eastern European food. It’s the food of my people. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia. It’s all good. However, with the summer seasons heating things up, I don’t like it. I don’t want to make it, and if I do slave over a hot stove making it, I don’t want to eat it. You know what I want to eat? Ice Cream.
While that is not a viable option for sustaining good health, I decided that the Buddha is flying (or, in an ideal existence, apparating) to the South Pacific to work my way backwards to Eastern Europe, ideally making it back there in the fall when I will happily eat sausage, cabbage rolls and potatoes until I look like them. There’s no point in making what I’m not going to want to eat, and those countries just don’t have “lighter” options. So there’s my rationale. On to Tonga!
First off, where is Tonga? The Kingdom of Tonga, which means “friendly islands,” is a cluster of islands in the South Pacific, named so for the warm welcome extended by the islanders to Captain Cook in 1773. It is located north east of New Zealand in the area also known as Polynesia.
Tongan cuisine is heavily influenced by outsiders, but traditional Tongan foods are simple and rely on the fruits of the land and sea: tropical fruits and root vegetables, especially coconuts and banana, and fresh seafood, shellfish, chicken, pork, and, strangely enough, corned beef. It’s supposedly delicious and rich, and the outside influence has caused quite an obesity epidemic. One of the most popular traditional cooking methods involves the use of an umu, or an underground oven (like you’d imagine at a Luau). I don’t have an umu, nor the space to build one, so you’ll have to leave that to your imagination.
Everything I found had some version of coconut in it. ‘Twas to not be avoided.
This is going to be an adventure. Here we go!
Ota Ika (Poisson Cru- sort of like a ceviche)
Faikakai malimali (banana dumplings)
Kapisi Pulu (wrapped corned beef)
Otai (fruit smoothie)