Entries in #food (5)


Fijian  Feast

The past week on the island of Beqa has been slow in terms of diving, because of the weather. Being in Fiji during the summer means you’re right in the middle of cyclone season which starts in November and continues through to April. Fortunately we haven’t had a cyclone!

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Making Connections With The Villages

I never thought that when I arrived here how much I would grow to love the nearby villages...

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Food On Camp 

Rice and beans it said. Lies, pure lies. I was reading the field brief and expecting the worst when it came to food. It kept saying we would just eat rice and beans and that the food would be bland, but the truth is, we have been eating like kings and queens.

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Experiencing the Fijian Culture: Fijian Lovo

Almost a month into my time in Fiji and it has been filled with wonderful experiences. Starting from the infamous kava ceremony to the best shark diving in the world. However, one of the most interesting thing to experience is the Fijian Lovo.

Our host family serving roast chicken, dalo, and cassava for the lovo (Photo by Freya ScrowstonLovo is a Fijian name for a feast cooked in earth. I am a big lover of traditional cooking and food, so naturally I am very excited when our Project Manager told us we’re going to have a big lovo with our Matagali family! Lovo always happens in the afternoon because a whole day was needed to prepare the food.

The first step in preparing a Lovo is heating the rocks which will serve as the base for the Lovo.  Specially selected stones are placed in a hot fire and left to absorb the heat. When the rocks are sufficiently heated, they are pulled from the flames and placed in the bottom of a shallow pit.

Next, the meat (chicken, fish, or pork) are tightly wrapped in a weave of palm fronds or banana leaves before being place in the bottom of the Lovo pit lined with hot rocks.  On top goes various root crops including dalo (the potato like root of the taro plant), cassava (the root of the tapioca plant) and Uvi (wild yam).

Once the pit is filled with food, the entire hole is filled with earth and left to 'cook' for anywhere from two to three hours depending on the amount of food. For the lovo that afternoon the family also provide us with palusami and potato salad. It was such an amazing feast to partake in.

Me stuffing my face with all the amazing food (Photo by Freya Scrowston)After the food was tucked safely into all of our stomach, the volunteers had a lively game of rugby with the family’s children. Much laughter and excitement were shared. It was definitely one of the best afternoons in Vaqa bay.

By Jane Giat - Assistant Research Officer

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Recipe for Fiji’s Favorite Food! Palusami

Palusami is a traditional Fijian delicacy that brings delight to all who taste it. The primary ingredient is taro leaves, which grow rampantly around camp on Beqa Island. You can also substitute spinach leaves or other leafy greens depending on what is available in your area.

If you do not like corned beef, feel free to substitute with minced beef, lamb, coconut shavings or extra veggies. As fresh meat is hard to get here, impossible to store without refrigeration, and expensive in Fiji, tins of corned beef or other tinned meats are often used in this recipe and many other local dishes instead.

The traditional way to cook this is in an underground earthen oven known as a "Lovo". It is a common dish at every special occasion and many Fijians and foreigners alike claim it as their favorite local dish. Here is a slightly modified recipe for all of you who would like to try preparing it at home!


•    1-2 dozen medium-sized taro leaves (feel free to use spinach or another dark leafy green instead. When I get home, I’d love to try this with kale or swiss chard!)
•    1 medium sized can of corned beef, or substitute
•    Small can of coconut milk (though the locals will grate and hand squeeze the mature brown coconuts instead of using this shortcut)
•    several roughly sliced tomatoes
•    1-2 onions (diced)
•    garlic (crushed), salt, and herbs to flavor, as required


1.    Preheat your oven to a moderate temperature, about 250F.
2.    Line a medium sized baking dish with foil, enough that you will be able to fold the top over and seal it.
3.    Arrange the taro leaves along the bottom and sides of these. Try to have them overlapping so that there are no gaps.
4.    Mix the corned beef with some of the coconut cream so the mixture is still thick and holds together. Add in the crushed garlic, salt, and any herbs/spices that you want to use.
5.    Put half of the corned beef mixture in, and top with a layer of diced tomatoes and onion. Then add the rest of the beef, and finish with the last of the tomatoes and onions.
6.    Pour coconut milk over this, and finally bend the taro leaves over the top and secure with toothpicks.
7.    Cover the top of your Palusami parcel with the foil, and place into oven to bake for 30 minutes.
8.    Enjoy!!!! This is a delicious, nutritious dish that can be enjoyed hot or cold. For a special flair, try serving it in half brown coconut shells.

By Brittany Walters - Project Manager

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