What to eat in Fiji

Fijian cuisine – What to eat in Fiji

A cuisine that defines itself as typical must have a strong connection with its territory and with the ingredients that naturally grow there.

Although there are not many typical Fijian restaurants in Fiji, the best way to taste Fijian dishes is to be hosted by a local family, but it can also happen in hostels, its cuisine is more than ever linked to the fruits that its fertile land offers. The tropical climate offers a variety of fruits and vegetables in astonishing quantity and quality!

eat fijiIf at home we consider ourselves lucky to have a fruit tree in the garden, in Fiji it is absolutely normal to have coconut palms, papaya, pineapple, breadfruit, banana trees and various roots such as ginger, cassava (read “casava”) and give it.
If you don’t have what you need right in front of your house, it’s common for older people to go into the bush early in the morning to get supplies, instead of to the market.

This is perhaps the reason for the good health, shapeliness and good humor that Fijians of all social backgrounds have in common, despite a GDP per capita of just $4,500 per year.

Cooking Fijian dishes at home, in Italy, can be done, but certainly the best place to get the ingredients is directly in Fiji… In cities like Nadi, Lautoka or Suva the central markets are epicenters of life, colors and scents where no it is difficult to be captivated by the strange shapes of the fruits and the bizarre ways of the sellers to display the goods (they arrange everything that is vaguely round in shape on pyramids!).

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There are basically two cooking techniques: over a flame, often over a wood fire, or through an underground oven typical of South Pacific cultures, the Love.

lovoIl Love (which in New Zealand is called Which and on the Samoan islands instead Unu) consists of a more or less deep and capacious pit dug into the ground, which once filled with a first layer of wood is covered with another of stones in which to place the metal containers containing the food: vegetables , meat and fish are all cooked at the same time. Finally, it is covered with another layer of coconut husks and everything is covered with earth. Cooking can take 6 to 8 hours, depending on the size, and the flavor is absolutely excellent!

The main courses have a lot in common with Asian tradition; soups and stews make up the lion’s share. Chicken and lamb are the favorite basic ingredients and are often cut into coarse cubes, including bones and skin. Garlic and soybean oil start the dance, followed by the meat and vegetables (savoy cabbage, potatoes, carrots, celery and beans), and then finish cooking with a little corn flour to give density and noodle.

A very particular variant of meat stew, this time beef, is prepared with a kind of spinach with huge, thick leaves called rourou, and cooked with coconut milk. Coconut milk is prepared by mixing the chopped pulp with water, then filtering the thick white juice that comes out.

Just as we are used to accompanying every meal with bread, in Fiji it is normal to always have boiled cassava and dalo roots cut into large cubes at the table, with a flavor similar to sweet potato and chestnut…

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