Saturday, 3 March 2012

More on the Lifou Shore Tour: How to Cook Bounga

Drinking coconuts on Lifou
While in the village of Hnathalo on Lifou we were given refreshments by several young women who cut the tops off small coconuts and handed us each one. The coconut milk was a cool, refreshing drink.

Cooking bounga under hot stones
Then we were treated to a cooking lesson in how to cook bounga, a Melanesian meal. Older women prepared the food while our guide explained the method to us. Small yams, taro, chicken pieces, and slices of papaya were doused in coconut milk and wrapped in banana leaves. This bundle was then tied with a fiber string, made from the leaves of a nearby tree.
Wet leaves piled on top to cook bounga
   They put the bounga 'parcel' in the pit, an area of cleared ground where a fire had been burning. The women used bent lengths of sticks as tongs to pile hot stones on top. Then they covered it with wet green leaves, and a sack. One lucky lady had the hardest task - shovelling dirt over this pile so it was completely covered and no smoke could escape. The bounga  would take one hour to cook.
   Meanwhile, they had pre-cooked another meal and handed round plates of the chicken and vegetables for us to try. It tasted slightly smoky, like food cooked in a Maori hangi, but with a coconut flavoured twist.

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