Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Pig roast and kava

We have been noticing an abundance of animals at Niuatoputapu (Kingdom of Tonga) since our arrival...horses, dogs, chickens, and so many pigs with their cute little piglets! Everywhere you turn, the piglets are running as fast as they can after their moms, some even as young as 2 days old.

Cutest 2-day old piglet with its mom

All the sailors in the anchorage were invited to a pig roast including traditional food and fish. Everything was cooked outside with 2 pigs being roasted on a spit.

Our hosts, Sia and her husband Niko (who had been the guide on yesterday's volcanic hike), explained what all the different dishes were once they were lavishly spread out on the table. There was taro root, taro root leaves cooked in cream shredded and squeezed from coconuts, fish, roasted pig, freshly squeezed mango juice, some type of dessert, and many other dishes that I can't remember the names of. The entire meal was delicious.

Outdoor kitchen that produced excellent food

We also had the experience of tasting the kava drink. This is something that we had been dreading since reading literature about it. In the old days, the women would all chew the kava roots till it was the right consistency and then spit it into a large kava bowl. The Chief would declare when it was ready to be consumed and a coconut cup would be passed around for everyone to partake. It would be considered rude to decline.

But fortunately, kava is now prepared in a more sanitary manner. The roots were pounded and the juice sieved into the large kava bowl and mixed with water. With everyone sitting around the bowl cross-legged, an amount was ladled into a few empty coconut shells and passed around for anyone wanting to taste and share the experience. We both did - more than once! - and found it to be quite bland, kind of like dishwater, and it made our tongues and lips numb. But it was not the horrid taste we had been expecting.

Jordan tasting his first kava under watchful eyes

Adoption among relatives is very popular and widely accepted in Tonga. Many couples adopt children of relatives for an abundance of reasons, as did Sia and Niko. And it is customary for older male children to sleep in a separate abode as we also saw while visiting this family.

Our gracious hosts, Sia and Niko

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