Thursday, August 4, 2011

Samoan Food (again)

Some more observations on food you get in Samoa

Ice cream comes in two main varieties in Samoa – premium flavors and neon colors. Premium flavors are generally only found in shops in Apia, the best flavor of which is boysenberry. It also includes standards like Rocky Road, Cookies ‘n Cream, and some flavors that are not so easy to pin down, like Hokey Pokey (it is vaguely caramel-y and coffee-y). The neon colors are the one you find in shops in the villages. You occasionally have the plain old white and brown – vanilla and chocolate – but usually it comes in a color. Pink – I am not kidding when I say this is the brightest pink ice cream I have seen in my life – is supposed to be strawberry. Green is lime, orange is orange, or maybe mango, and yellow is banana. Once I found a golden yellow that turned out to be pineapple. When eating this ice cream, I always feel like a 5-year-old kid. Ice cream melts as soon as it leaves the freezer in Samoa, so it drips everywhere – down your chin and all over the cone and your hand. It can be a huge mess if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Wedding cake – I have had wedding cake on three occasions so far, and as far as I can tell, wedding cake comes in one variety. The closest thing I can think to compare it to is carrot cake, but it is much sweeter and there are no carrots. The icing is also the most sickly sweet icing I have ever had, and I can’t eat more than a bite or two with icing.

Noodles – Ramen noodles, bowl of noodles, or whatever form it comes in, are generally eaten for breakfast. Or you can crush them up and eat them dry for a snack. I hear that the latter of these is catching on in the States, or at least among school-age children.

MSG can be bought in packets at pretty much any shop.

Twisties (or any other version – there are several) are all a variation on Cheetos. However, twisties come in three main flavors. Cheese, extra cheese, and chicken. Since cheese and chicken both start with “ch,” I generally assume whatever bag I have in my hand is cheese flavored because that is what you would find in the States. Not a safe assumption. I am always a bit disappointed to discover chicken flavored twisties.

The variation of the fruit smoothie. I love these. My latest favorite is salati vi, which is shredded vi (the Samoan apple, similar in texture but a bit drier) mixed with coconut cream and peanuts. Delicious. I also love the pineapple drink, which is smushed pineapple, coconut cream (sometimes milk instead) and sugar.

Coconut cream comes in about as many varieties as bananas (believe me, there are a lot).

Cooking with lava rocks – I have seen them added to a few liquid concoctions right before sugar is added. First, drop the lava rocks, fresh from the fire, into the liquid. Let it bubble around until it is steaming and glurping like a witch’s cauldron. Then, add the sugar – it will melt instantly.

I have found some truly delicious foods in Samoa – my favorites being palusami and breadfruit. One of the sad things about it though is that I have no idea how to bring it back to the States. First of all, I don’t think taro and breadfruit even exist in the States, or if they do, I’ve never found them. Even if I could find them, I wouldn’t know what to do with them because I’ve only seen them cooked on the umu – the traditional oven made of lava rocks, coconut husks, and palm fronds. I’m not sure that would fly in the States either; too many fire bans.


  1. Great post! I've never "eaten" ice cream in Samoa, I've always had to slurp it because it melts so fast! haha. Love the comments on the food. Soifua!

  2. Hello Natalie, your blog is really nice and the stuff you do as a PCV is really great! I really like this food-dedicated post :)

    I'm Rajko, from Montenegro, one of the smallest countries in Europe. I also have my blog: It's about my postcard collection. I managed to collect postcards from more than 190 countries, but I still miss Samoa. Could you please send me one postcard from there? Of course, I will send you back anything you would like to receive from Montenegro. Several times I exchanged beautiful postcards with PCVs from different countries such as Tonga, Senegal...

    Thanks so much in advance! Postcard from there would make my day for sure! :)

    My email:

    Yours faithfully,

  3. Actually there IS taro here! and you can cook with it - I have a few recipes. Taro is one of my favorite flavors of Boba. Have you ever had boba(aka Pearl tea/bubble tea)? Anyway, while in China town in Boston (I just got back from a summer living in Cambridge) there are a billion asian pastry shops (I never knew there was such a thing) and they have loafs of bread of all kinds of flavors - including Taro (and red bean paste among others) I did not know it was called breadfuit - but I imagine it is very similar. True, we do not have lava rocks to make an umu, however, there are fire-bake ovens in Boulder - many in fact, which are at least, fire-y which is more than you can say for our traditional American stove-ovens. I've run into this same problem when we want to cook Indian food, and well, we don't have their clay ovens to make naan. But I did find that if you have a pizza stone, it works better. Maybe you could try to make taro breadfruit on an oven stone? I'd help!

    Recently, I had this amazing Taro dish at a restaurant. It was hot flour-coated taro bits floating in sweet coconut milk. SOOOOOOO good! Have you found any desserts made from Taro in Samoa? What all do they make with Taro?

    Anyway, I have just developed a recent obsession with Taro products, so when you get back, find me, and we'll make something Taro.

    Happy eating,