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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sunday Lunch with Nico and Sia (Nuiatoputapu, Tonga)

It is a really lovely experience to be invited to someone's home who you've just met and share a meal. That is just what Sia and Nico do for the cruisers who visit the island.

Carolyne loved their homestead. The main house is a very small with a dining table in the main room and two small bedrooms off to the side. The cooking area and WC are outdoors. A smaller one room house sits just behind the main house and that is where their teenage son stays. Carolyne is envious and has asked if she can have a place like that once we return to land. Jim and I are in love with the "tiny house" trend and have researched the different layouts. More yard, less house... and that is exactly how these people live.

The Tongan meal is similar to the Samoan food we experienced, but less greasy. Taro leaves are wrapped around fish (or sometimes other meat, but fish is mainly used) and cooked in coconut milk. Baked casava, banana, yam and breadfruit are the side dishes. Our favorite was a papaya cooked in coconut cream... it was heavenly. And Sia took a can of tuna fish, chopped up an onion and wrapped that in a type of local cabbage leaf - that was also very tasty! We brought chocolate cupcakes - that was a big hit!

We brought our own plates and silverware - these people don't have much. It was really kind of them to share what they had. Alcohol is forbidden on the island. We all drank rain water.

A few days later it was their son's 16th birthday and we were invited to share a roasted piglet. It was very, very good - although if you have any reservations about seeing an entire piglet served up on a platter (head, eyes, feet, snout, etc...) then you might decline the invitation. We had no problem - even as their three year old gnawed on the little leg, a hoof hanging out of the side of her mouth. And because they feed their pigs coconut, the flavor of the meat is doubly delish!

About the cupcakes - it was suggested by another cruiser that we by chocolate cake mixes before heading to Fiji. We bought 5 or so in Pago, but wished we had purchased a lot more. Chocolate is hard to come by here and we've been told it is expensive in Fiji. The locals appreciate when you share a dessert. What I didn't buy was prepared frosting - I didn't want to pay $3 a pop in Pago. But I also didn't want to use a pound of butter to make frosting since it can't be replaced here, canned or refrigerated. Carolyne and I came up with a substitute that worked beautifully that you might want to add to your cruising recipes.

(frosts about 24 cupcakes)

(1) 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4-5 heaping Tablespoons of cocoa powder (you may need more)
a splash of vanilla

Using ¾ of the can of sweetened condensed milk, whisk in the cocoa powder until thick and smooth.
Add the vanilla.
Taste it and adjust until you approve.
If you have a fridge, chill to help thicken. This is a sticky frosting with a "ganache" like quality, so make sure you don't frost cupcakes until ready to serve.

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