The last time I cooked something from Oceania there was a whole thing with rigging something up with banana leaves and twine. Sure, the food was interesting but it made for a lot of greenery to stick out with the compostables. Still though, it cannot be said that the food that I have made for this region has not been varied – which continued with today’s country of Kiribati.
If you struggle to find this country on your map, it’s probably because you are looking for it on the right hand side rather than the left. Look for Hawaii, then cast your eyes south to find the section where the International Date Line has an almost hammer-shaped protuberance: there, now you’ve found the large group of islands that make up the nation of Kiribati.
Now that you know where to find them, you’ll know where Kiribati should have been. As an island nation where the land is of low elevation, this is the going to be the first nation to disappear due to rising sea levels. So let’s appreciate the culture while we can and just hope something wide-reaching will be done before it goes underwater permanently.
You look up recipes for I-Kiribati food online and you will see shades of the same recipe appear everywhere – one for a dish called Te Bua Toro Ni Baukin. There’s a comment on one of the sites that features this dish and says it isn’t truly representative… but then again there isn’t much else out there in terms of recipes for Kiribati. I’m taking the view that this had to have come from somewhere. This may be an adaptation or localization of the original recipe, but since I can’t find the original online I’m more than happy to go with this one and munch it down. Twice. Because it makes enough for two meals and I really enjoyed eating it.
So, what is this dish? Well, think of it as a casserole made using pumpkin, cabbage and tinned meat (I used Spam, because I love it and I haven’t eaten it since I last made Army Stew) is delicious and I am definitely going to make it again. Some people online call this a weird combination, but it makes total sense to me. Add in a generous helping of black pepper and you have a big dish of comfort food that feels semi-healthy other than the Spam (although you can get low fat Spam… so that’s a plus). I would say to anyone out there, just give it a go. Hell, this might even make for an interesting conversation as an addition to a pot luck meal.
Right, so the initial plan of doing a European nation next obviously didn’t happen. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to do Greece as my next major cuisine country, but also thought it would be a good idea to pair that with a visit from one of my best friends. He’s down next week, so I have time to find some good recipes and do some advance prep where needed.