Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bite me!

Cracking open a coconut.
Photo: Pacific Love
If you know me well, well enough to laugh at my bad jokes, you would know that there are several things that I love more than life (almost).

 Historically correct ~ family, God, aviation, Areta.  Ok, maybe not that focused, it's too early in the year to be serious.  Apart from those four, I enjoy sleeping (no joke), reading (serious issue), Japanese food, the odd Oyster Bay vino (usually around November on the beach with crazy friends), planning long haul trips involving several flights and above all~ eating, did I mention the Japanese food? 

My papa is a foodie like me.  Food is his life, farming to produce fresh vegetables and beautiful juicy steak can do that to a man.  He enjoys his steak, nothing says 'amazing' like a colossal piece of meat.  Samoans are not known for holding back when it comes to food especially their meat. Sunday + food prolongs your life. Samoan mixed with Chinese blood makes it a bigger celebration.  Immediately health freaks will shut their eyes and blow their ears at this post.  Let's forget about the bad and focus on the yummcho factor here.  If you are on your new year resolutions about losing 30kg to fit a certain dress, running 20 marathons, eating pa-auke (salads) for 12 months then this post is not for you. 

There is a buzzling around the islands that is undeniably loud.  There is a freshness that is absolutely inspiring and a promise that will awaken your taste buds.  Samoa is almost ready to open its culinary doors to the world.  We are on the verge of surprising ourselves with our own locally grown, locally produced food.  A decade ago, from a local perspective, I can honestly say that the food offered at our restaurants was nothing to call home for if you were a tourist.  It was not because the food was bad (maybe a little) but because our hospitality industry was trying too hard to imitate the Western food experience.  Menus were filled with fries, burgers and deep fried garbage drowned in oil and gooey mayonnaise. 

Ten years later, town is bustling with restaurants that are not afraid to experiment with new/local menus.  Restaurants with returning residents who were educated in the arts of wielding a spatula and flipping the fluffy pancakes on a flat surface.  Those who were willing to leave the comfort of their new found overseas exposure and saw the potential of our local market.  This willingness is not limited to returning residents, our locally bred, weaned men and women who have been cooking in their kitchens since they came out of the delivery room are going back to school to earn their credentials, formally.  I believe this mix of overseas experience and traditional local chefs will take the Samoan eating experience beyond tantalizing your taste buds.  They will infect you with their love of food to return time and time again.

A foodie is not afraid to indulge in different cuisine.  I've often said that eating is one of the top pleasures in life.  Eating with your hands is much more personal than using a fork and probably much safer in some cases.  If you have dined with me, you'd often hear me say "man, this is the best cheesecake I've ever tasted", "aren't we blessed that there is so much food here", 'amuia tatou ia i Samoa'.  Whether it be fine dining at Scalinis (lobster salmon ravioli is to die for), enjoying the Korean BBQ at Orator Hotel, inhaling the best poke on island at Amanaki Hotel, fresh fish and chips at Return to Paradise Resort, driving to Seabreeze Resort for spicy beef Thai salad, surviving on a hot cuppa from Home Cafe or having fried fish, pork buns, faausi at the local market with hot breadfruit, the fact is, Samoa is awake!  Gone are the days when you had to second guess if the food is right in this place.  Samoa has brought their home kitchens to the restaurants. 

Let's not forget the amazing coffee that is now being served (deserves a whole other blog).  I for one, appreciate the little pleasures in life and show love through food.  There is something deeply satisfying about cutting into a richly marbled steak or diving into a neat stack of  fa'apapa fai! You can tell, this blog will be an encyclopedia if I keep talking about food.  So go out, be merry, have a koko Samoa at the local market and taste what is out there.  The waist line will be richer for it!  Whatever you do, take someone with you because food is so much better with great company.  Next time, you are sitting there wondering if the eating experience in Samoa is worth it, the fish says "BITE ME".

I leave you now with a few websites that will help whet your appetite!
Polynesian kitchen
Samoan recipes
More recipes
Top 10 food to enjoy in Samoa, by Smarter Travel

Mea'ai Samoa
Polynesian Cook book by Robert Olive
Samoan meal
A Samoan meal by Jamie Fouss

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