Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guacamole and Laplap

Last week, school was canceled in honor of a public holiday called Chief's Day. The chief in our village was nowhere to be found, but we still celebrated. In honor of the celebration, my host family asked me to make guacamole. I don't know how they'd even heard of guacamole, but I was more than happy to make it. The avocados in Vanuatu are gigantic and quite delicious. As of now, there are in season here. My host family made laplap, the national dish of Vanuatu which is made from either manioc, sweet potato, taro, or banana cooked between banana leaves over an open fire. I was surprised when they asked me to make it spicy, so I added cumin, Mexican chili powder, and cayenne pepper which had been provided to me through care packages and purchased in Port Vila. The lack of spice in Vanuatu cuisine (often called “island kakae”) has caused the food here to become disappointing. Many great fruits and vegetables are available here, including a few that surprise me, such as eggplant, pumpkin, tomato, green peppers, and manioc. I remember having to explain to my host family what cinnamon was. My friends in the Peace Corps have suggested that I teach a cooking class in order to educate them about different spices. I wonder how fruitful that would be since very few spices are available for purchase on Malekula. However, I have talked to the Peace Corps about my aspiration to launch a mural project similar to the one in which I participated in Harlem. So far, they approve. I plan to go through a PCPP, a project in which I raise money through the Peace Corps website. These projects have a ninety-eight percent success rate!

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