One of the interesting and unique things about Papua New Guinea is that despite the many cultures, numbering over 800, all the cultures tend to share something in common. One of the similarities amongst cultures is food.
Papua New Guinea is not, from a tourism perspective, re-known for the food it grows or the food it cooks. While it does grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, none of these tend to be on the limelight to tourists when they visit the country.
Having said that, that’s not to say that Papua New Guinea has very little to offer in the food and beverage department for a tourist to have a taste of the fruits and vegetables we grow and the food we cook. Food is culture and if tourists higher to experience culture then food should be a part of that tourist experience too.
So here are 10 items that we think a tourist should try when they next visit Papua New Guinea:
From the Gulf Province to the Sepik, Sago is an integral part of the local diet. It looks a bit like English porridge but doesn’t taste as sweet (in the sugar sense) as porridge. It tastes better when including fish and topped with coconut milk.
Bariva is made from sago, coconut milk and sweet bananas. Unlike sago itself, the banana adds flavour and sweetness (in the sugar sense) to it. It is eaten more as a desert although strictly speaking there is no such a thing as a dessert in the Papua New Guinea sense.
- Coconut juice
Coconut juice is turning out to be an “in-demand” beverage for those looking for a healthy and refreshing beverage. This is the case in Australia and the United States. In fact, most if not all the coconut juice products on the market in Australia and the United States are packaged in Asian countries and then imported into Australia and United States. This is a money making avenue Papua New Guineans should consider given that the coconut grows in the coastal areas. You will see locals selling coconuts in the market at very cheap prices and this is a chance for visitors to have a taste of this refreshing drink the local way.
One of the most expensive items in restaurants around the world, locals catch these and bring them to the city to sell. They sell them at prices well below those sold in the restaurants. The lobster itself is half of the attraction – you need to eat it once it is cooked the local way which is an open fire.
Papua New Guineans aren’t known for the fancy way they cook food. Rather, it’s more simple. But simplicity doesn’t mean foregoing taste. Far from it. Try fish that is smoked in an open fire and you will know the difference why simple things cooked in the simplest way is simply the best.
Aigir is a term used in the New Guinea Islands of Papua New Guinea. The food items which can consist of fish, chicken or pork along with a variety of vegetables like sweet potatoe, bananas and taro just to name a few are wrapped in banana leaves and placed in an underground oven filled with hot stones mostly from the nearby river. These hot stones cook and wrapped food items for hours. The end product is deliciously unbelievable and you can get a smokey taste on the food.
- Sweet potato boiled in coconut milk
The sweet potatoe or kaukau is nothing like you’ve tasted anywhere else. The best ones tend to come from the Highlands of Papua New Guinea most notably for the rich soil in which they are grown. A popular dish is boiling sweet potato or any vegetable for that matter in coconut milk.
- Roast pork
Papua New Guineans cannot go through a ceremony without pigs being slaughtered and then roasted for the ceremony. The Highlands region once again have many elaborate ceremonies of which roast pork plays an important part in the feast.