Local Foods

This chapter is devoted to the foods one finds in a Papua New Guinea market. The approximate prices for 1978 are shown as a guideline and, where practicable, a description is included of how best each item might be prepared for the table. I am in debt to my wife Patricia for this section and will always recall with pleasure some of the wonderful things she did with native foods.

To those who have been 'spoilt' by cool, crisp apples, enormous red tomatoes and giant yellow bananas, it should be pointed out that the people of Papua New Guinea still grow their produce organically. As any health crank will tell you, organically grown food is by far the best and is fast becoming the 'in' thing in big cities around the world. In Papua New Guinea the tomatoes are like marbles, bananas are often tiny little things but their flavour is superb — far better than the chemically fertilised equivalent of the developed world.

COCONUTS are available in two basic types; the eating nut and the drinking nut. The eating nut is ripe — that is, it has fallen from the tree, is brown in

Above: Hideout Creek is navigatable for a couple of miles upstream by the average yacht. It enters Morobe Harbour from the south-west. Below: The jettv at Morobe. The settlement is basic with no Europeans.

PINEAPPLE The Papua New Guinea pineapple would have to be the world's best. Perhaps not in appearance, but certainly in flavour. They are sweet and juicy and absolutely superb. They cost 30 Toea to K1.00 each depending on size and location. In the Port Moresby market where everything is expensive I have seen four Kina being asked for one pineapple.

PAWPAW cost from 10 Toea to 30 Toea each and can be used in any of the following ways:

• As a vegetable when green and hard.

• The leaves can be used to tenderise meat by wrapping the meat in the leaves or by rubbing it with the pawpaw flesh.

• Pawpaw skin placed over insect bites will ease the sting.

• Pawpaw skin placed over a tropical ulcer will help remove dead tissue.

CARAMBOLA (Five Corners) cost 10 Toea for a pile and are very thirst quenching although often very sour. Their juice can help remove stains from linen.

SOUR SOP An acquired taste is necessary it is claimed by some, but considered by the author as one of the tropic's finest fruits. Cost around 10 to 40 Toea each.

MANGOSTEEN are not commonly found in markets but worth trying if located. They look something like a persimmon and have a unique tangy taste. They cost 10 to 20 Toea per pile.

BANANAS I think Papua New Guinea must have more varieties of banana than any other country. They come in many shapes and sizes with variations of colours between dark green and glowing yellow. They might be cooking or eating bananas with the size and colour doing little to present an easy method of identification. The buyer must ask the vendor whether the bananas on display are eating or cooking. The price ranges from 10 Toea for a small bunch to K1.00 for a large bunch. Quite often a full bunch of bananas at a village will cost around 70 Toea.

MANGOES The king of them all. They cost about two for 10 Toea and can occasionally prove hard to find. Not because they are scarce, but because the natives very often eat them green leaving very few to fully ripen for those who prefer them ripe.

PEANUTS are grown locally and are sold in bunches costing about 10 Toea.

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