After arriving home from work last week, I approached our front porch and was met with a horrific odor that stopped me in my tracks. It was as if someone had placed a ripe pile of month old garbage in front of the house and I was not thrilled to learn that I was about to eat the source of that smell. Mom had managed to get her hands on something she has talked about for years ever since we saw a certain episode of Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods; a durian.
The durian is the one thing Andrew Zimmern won't eat; this is a man who eats grubs, maggots, eyeballs and testicles like they're noting, but not the durian! For some crazy reason this intrigued Mom and made here long to try one, lucky for me she found one! This little culinary delight is not in the "Food Around Us" category because it's not native (thank goodness) and there are only three tree's on the island.
Now please don't take my current tone as if I didn't approach the durian with an open mind, I definitely did it's just that I am writing this after the fact and I now know for certain what a vial "fruit" the durian is. Mom did the cutting and the inside had large seeds surrounded by a white and creamy "meat". The inside smelled worse than the outside.
With all the cutting and scooping done we sat down to try it, Mom was first and said she liked it! I cleared my head, ignoring the smell and thinking "this might be delicious".... I don't think a gag reflex has every hit me that fast before. I can't really explain the taste or sensation, it's just all around awful and i couldn't spit it out fast enough. While Mom says she liked it, I don't think she at more than two or three spoonfuls. The glass tupperware still smells like it! I can definitely say it was an experience and one I don't want to have again.
We also recently tried another non-native food that grow sparsely on the island called "bilimbi" and locally referred to as a "Filipino pickle". It is a small pickle sized fruit which is crispy and very sour, from what I'm told it originates from the Philippines hence the name.
In other news, in order to ensure that Noah is in touch with his Buffalo roots we gave him his first "chicken" wing. Technically it was from a Cornish Hen, not a chicken but it was the perfect size!
We had another cheap dinner... $15 for all the food.
Here is Noah getting ready for his tropical fruit and local coco covered pancakes on Valentines Day!
NOAH NEWS: He just keeps getting bigger! He always says "peese" when asking for things, just like a little gentlemen.
TIPS FOR FUTURE A.S. RESIDENTS: Read "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" and if you think some of that could be fun then you're all set to move here, it's much better that Kiribati! Plus it's a funny book.
Taro - Like the bread fruit is another staple of the Samoan diet. Taro is a root (tuber) and is very starchy and much denser than a potato. Taro can be found growing on almost everyones land and is present in every Sunday umu (underground oven). It gets roasted, boiled and fried, but we prefer the boiled or fried chips. Taro is quiet dry (and relatively tasteless) and roasting it makes it so dry it's impossible to eat without something moist to accompany it.
Taro is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and is a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.
The picture above is the taro field on our street/driveway. In addition to the root, those big leaves are also eaten and can be found in every umu. Most commonly the leaves are used to make a pouch which is filled with coconut cream and onion then wrapped in tin foil and roasted. It's called palusami (pah-lou-sah-me) and often provides the moisture to help wash down roasted taro.
There is one more way taro is eaten, the cooked taro is mashed up with water creating a paste called poi (p-oy). This isn't very common is Samoa, but is a staple in other Polynesian islands like Hawaii (their taro is purple, ours is grey/white). Poi can also be left to ferment and then eaten as a good pro-biotic. It kind of has the texture of runny mashed potatoes out of a box.... and it tastes like what ever you add to it... salt, bananas etc.
NOAH NEWS: Noah has a 3 molars which are halfway in and swollen. This lead him to stop chewing and eating food properly which gave Mom and Dad a horribly scary moment when he choked! Dad quickly gave him the upside down, back pat, Heimlich move you're supposed to give babies and he cleared the blockage with a glorious scream. That'll get your heart rate up.
TIPS FOR FUTURE A.S. RESIDENTS: The TAX MAN cometh!! In a most disturbing revelation I have learned that the government here forces people to use all the tax codes from the year 2000 when filing! That's 15 years of unaccounted inflation and a lower deductible! We are all paying WAY more than we should be... or that we would on the mainland anyway. It's pretty sad because low income folks (the majority of the population) are hurt the worst by it and have no clue they are being screwed.... although I may have stirred the pot on this one a bit! Let's hope they don't deport me.
The Jaskowiak Family
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