This description of our Christmas Dinner is a little late in coming, but we have been especially busy the past several weeks.
Our good friends the Kennerleys invited us to join them for a real Samoan meal on Christmas Day prepared by Sister Kennerley’s relatives. We were delighted to be a part of it, and to observe the step-by-step preparations.
One of the first steps was to procure the pig and persuade him (or her?) to be our main course. (To be honest, it was a little jarring for us city folk to see how it actually happens -- the pig was plunged head first into a bucket of water and held there until it stopped moving.)
It took a little work, but soon it was nestled comfortably on the banana leaves prior to its being roasted on the hot coals being prepared.
In the meantime, the fire in the cook house behind the family’s living quarters was being tended. Dry coconut husks were lit and soon a raging fire was going to heat the lava rocks to a high temperature.
In the meantime (and there are a lot of “in the meantimes” here, as everything had to come together at just the right time), a teenager in the family was first husking coconuts, cracking open the nuts, and then grating the coconut from which the coconut cream would be made. Behind him Sister McBride watches as a cousin peels the taro (kind of like a potato).
His nephew carefully monitored the proceedings on his electronic device.
In the meantime, the mother and father were weaving the baskets in which to hold the food as it was being prepared and in which the food items would be cooked.
It was fascinating to see how quickly they could weave a basket -- about 10 minutes. The finished product would look like this:
Elder McBride, Sister Kennerley, and Elder Kennerley visited while the process unfolded.
Another son is now shaving off the outside of the breadfruit which will also be cooked in the hot coals. Breadfruit, by the way, is neither bread nor fruit. It is a starchy vegetable that grows on breadfruit trees.
With the coconut cream ready to go, the father poured the cream into cups fashioned from leaves; these will also be placed on the hot coals. The dish he is making is called palusami, and it is a real Samoan delicacy, and Elder and Sister McBride both love it.
Soon all the elements of the meal – the taro, the breadfruit, the palusami, and of course the pig are buried atop the coals under layers of banana leaves and coconut fronds.
A great family! We loved being with them.
And the food was delicious!