Getting all my ducks in a row

Getting all my ducks in a row

Western Viti Levu, Fiji

Aug 29, 2015

(Posted from Majuro March 2017)

 

Waiting in my tiny freezer on my boat are two ducks. Fijian ducks.

“You must go and see my father-in-law,” said Kerry, one of my dearest art students in New Zealand, “He was leader of the opposition in Fiji when the first coup happened.”

In December 2014 we sailed from Wellington to Auckland and duly met Jai Ram Reddy, a lovely 79 year old man, for afternoon tea in his Aukcland suburban home. He furnished us with his family contacts in Fiji along with a very interesting perspective on Fijian politics. Hi view that t3h current Fijian government is effectively a benevolent dictatorship under the thin guise of democracy.

Two months after arriving in Fiji we rounded the western end of Viti Levu, 25 knots of wind in our sails and two metre following swells, and I fired off an email to Jai’s brother Raghu, this pretty much complete stranger. It bounced. So I called. I hate calling complete strangers. Especially in another country. A well-spoken Indian man replied, and almost immediately asked if we were free on Sunday and told us he and his wife would show us around the western end of Viti Levu. I think they were expecting us.

What transpired was a fabulous day out, and an introduction to Fiji from an Indian perspective. Including a visit to the family’s duck farm.

The farm, set on a hill, contained multiple large enclosures filled with hundreds of ducks spread out over the property. Most of them Peking ducks, and some Muscovy. Now I’d always thought Peking duck was a Chinese style of cooking. But no, its a breed. I learnt that the Muscovy is a tougher bird (and possibly more flavoursome) more suited to longer slower cooking and Indians prefer it for their curries.

“Can we come and go sailing and have cocktails on your boat?” asked Tiane, Tongan/Fijian/Indian co-owner of le canards.

“But of course,” we cried. We love taking people out.

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Now in my very limited understanding everyone curries their ducks in Fiji, so I immediately started thinking about how I could serve different duck, duck as cocktail food.

I hadn’t really cooked duck since my cooking school days in the 70’s. Nouvelle cuisine days, when duck A L’Orange was de rigueur.

For all I knew these guys could be duck connoisseurs.

My plan:

Duck three ways. Drinks food.

I wanted to use different ethnicities but try and retain the ducky flavour.

  • Duck sushi. I hadn’t seen sushi in Fiji at all. Not even in Suva so I’m guessed this would be unusual. I experimented with a wasabi lime gel.
  • Duck rice paper rolls. With basil and pawpaw, both grown locally. Accompanied by a light Asian dipping sauce using the crisp hot sweet local red chilies.
  • Duck in miti sauce. This is a local i-Tauke (indigenous Fijian) sauce made with freshly grated and squeezed coconut cream, tomato, chili, onion salt, lime, served in a Chinese spoon.

The cocktail session with the duck owners never transpired, things don’t always go as planned at sea. But I did try out the appetisers on some unsuspecting fellow cruisers. The sushi didn’t taste ducky, but the novelty value of the seaweed wrapped morsels was enough. Same with the rice paper rolls. However the duck miti was a hit. The second time I served it that was. The first day it was okay but 24 hours in the coconut cream and the flavours blossomed. I think I need to do more work on duck.

Appetisers anyone?

Sad to leave but satisfied, we upped anchor and left Kavala. After spending a few days visiting another village on the island, the homeland of a childhood neighbour of mine, we set sail for Suva. Back in the city we reprovisioned and picked up dear friend Richard for a two week visit.

(Some sections of the next few posts were covered in our sailing blog on Yachts in Transit http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/navire but I have developed them in here to create the culinary part of my journey).

Aug 28, 2015

“Margarita Janet?” Need the man ask? This has been our evening ritual since Richard arrived in Fiji two weeks ago. To be honest my liver is struggling but I can’t say no to tequila and fresh lime juice, after all I’m on a yacht and could get scurvy. There will be time to dry out once Richard gets on a plane back to Wellington.

Another day on the ocean found us rounding the coast to western Fiji. Through yet another reef we entered the Mamanucas (pronounced Mamanuthas). Finally, I thought, we would get the reputed lighter winds in this much vaunted yachting mecca. Not. We anchored in Musket Cove, home of marina, yacht club and resort, and bounced around all night in howling winds.

In the morning Richard and I bravely (or foolishly) took our little dinghy to shore to shop and do laundry. Landing on the island was like being transported to another world. Gently waiving coconut palms greeted us, as did friendly staff dressed in red and black. People wandered around in holiday mode and sipped on ice-cold beers at beach bars under thatched roofs.

First I tracked down the laundry. Having access to a washing machine for a halfway reasonable price is a rare treat in the tropics. We loaded up the machine and wandered off to the shop. It was surprisingly cheap for a resort and I stocked up on pawpaws, bananas and salad stuff including fresh basil and mint which was grown behind the resort. Bring on lunch I said to Richard.

Back in the dinghy the tropical mirage evaporated and we were at the mercy of the sea and her bad mood. The waves were huge for our tiny, now very laden, boat. The sea sloshed into the dinghy soaking us, our shopping, and the precious clean laundry. Back on board we quickly hauled anchor and began navigating the coral around to the lee side of Malolo. We were looking for secluded bay to settle in for some quiet but serious eating and drinking time, Richard being a culinary aficionado too.

 

As we rounded to corner to Likuliku Bay we breathed a sigh of relief. It was calm. And almost empty. We’d expected it to be full of other boats escaping the wind, but no, there was only one other boat anchored there. A kiwi boat. A boat we’d heard on passage on our radio net. We became instant friends with Kat and Seiorse, two gorgeous 30 somethings off SV Acrux, sharing drinks, meals and computer files within moments of acquaintance.

I love Kiwis, they are so down to earth, especially these two, and I enjoyed speaking in a common lingo. (Little did I know what a rare event that was to be in the next year or two).

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The first night’s culinary sharing was on our boat. I dug around in my freezer. What could I do to impress? Ah, frozen tuna from Suva. I’d already discovered that this meat was frozen so fresh that I could still use it for sushi or sashimi. And it was extraordinarily cheap.

Sushi? Nah, too common. But I could deconstruct it. I seared little squares of tuna, cooked the rice and added sushi flavours, and popped it into little oiled plastic containers to shape it. To garnish I shredded nori and made a nest for the divine salmon caviar, brand Cavi-Art, made from I think seaweed, through some molecular gastronomy process. Imagine if I had some now…. Garnished with microgreens, grown in our cockpit! “Was this really me?” I ask as I write this in 2017. I seem to have gone off the boil on presentation.

We finished with tropical fruit balls, my melon baller came into its own on local luscious red watermelon and pink Hawaiian pawpaw. From deep in the provisions lockers I added rum roasted Fijian pineapple, salted caramel sauce and passionfruit sauce, that I’d made that I made down at Kadavu. Eat your heart out locovores.

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Acrux came back for more. And they were welcome, such a highly appreciative audience. Looking back at the photos it seems I excelled myself. Maybe I could get that inspired again. I plattered up little Thai fish cakes with chili syrup, made from local fish, local chilies and even local sugar, after all Fiji is the home of sugar production. Eggplant wraps, bagani in Fijian.

Dukkah and decent olive oil, my mouth is watering – Dukkah! We’ve had no seeds for over a year, they go stale in five minutes and there is no decent olive oil for 2000 miles. When we had some in Canada on a visit last year I almost drank it straight from the bottle, so grassy and spicy on the tongue.

This time the watermelon came in the form of a sweet, chilled, daiquiri, the tequila lifting it to the heavens, aided by a squirt of Fijian lime juice. Maybe I’ll go and cook something. Or make just make a daiquiri and get drunk.

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It’s all about lunch

It’s all about lunch

Out To Lunch

“We should have worn our gumboots,” I declared as I slipped in the mud and nearly fell over for the third time. David and I, replete form a Fijian lunch with a lovely Fijian family, were walking along a muddy road from the school to the bay where we’d left the dinghy. It had been raining for days.

“Every time I come to shore it’s an adventure,” I said to David.

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***

This time we’d come ashore to buy another lovo lunch from the local shop. Last time we had lovo here the shop family had loaded a dozen baskets in the back of a truck and driven them off to the nearby school. We pictured a group of people eating their lovo together and wanted to join in.

“Can we come in the truck and have lunch at the school?” I asked the driver this time as he loaded the back with lovo baskets.

He looked puzzled for a moment but said to hop in anyway.

After sliding along the road for half a mile the driver parked the truck and several kids came running over to collect the lovo packs, then ran off again. It dawned on me that there was no group of people eating together.

The driver, seeing our disappointment, asked, “Do you want to eat with some of the kids or teachers?”

“Er, teachers,” I said.

“Go to the head teacher, he lives in that house down there.” The driver said pointing down a muddy bank.

He called a child over, spoke rapidly in Fijian, and the boy led us down the hill, me clutching our lovo basket, terrified of falling again and landing on lunch.

The boy gestured at a little yellow house. “You go there.”

I knocked on the door.

A Fijian woman opened it.

“Hello,” I said rather sheepishly, “er, the driver of the lovo truck said to come down here to eat lunch.”

“Come in, come in,” she said enthusiastically, as if unexpected people turned up for lunch all the time. “I’m Buna.”

We were introduced all round and given a place at the table.

As Buna served up David explained, “In New Zealand we can’t just turn up to a strangers house at lunchtime and say can we join you.”

“Ah, in Fiji we do. But we don’t have many visitors here. You are most welcome.”

They dished our up lovo with theirs and we all helped ourselves to succulent chicken cooked in the ground, baked breadfruit, palusami, and marinated fish. All local and all very fresh.

We ate island style digging in with our hands, but that tradition is changing.

“Food is spoiled by using cutlery,” said Buna, “but we have to eat with cutlery in Suva now.”

“How long have you been here?” asked Jacob, the head teacher.

“Three weeks.”

“You like it here?”

“We love it. We only came for three days but the people have been so friendly we keep delaying leaving. We’ve had lots of visitors to the boat, been to many people’s places for meals and music.”

“You like the Fijian food?” Buna asked.

“Yes, and I’m cooking cassava, bele, rourou and fish.”

“Would you like some vegetables?” she offered.

Would I ever!

***

After lunch Buna showed us their large garden, beautifully laid out in rows. She picked us a supermarket bag full of bok choy, cabbage, eggplant, butter beans and coriander.

I’ve quickly got used to not having a fridge full of food and having it just turning up when we need it. Because food grows here so easily here the Fijians won’t take money for it. Even the shopkeeper charges us for eggs from Suva but not for bananas from his farm.

So so fresh.

“Sotatale,” (see you tomorrow) I said to our new friends.

The school has a sky dish and power and this is where everyone was going to watch the rugby. Fijians love their rugby and this game was between Fiji and the Maori All Blacks.

At shop we collected bananas, vudi and pawpaws. No, they still wouldn’t take any money for them. I want to repay some of this boundless Fijian generosity. Looks like I’m baking another cake.

***

We turned up for the game the next day but for some reason the TV wasn’t going. A not uncommon occurance. We presented our banana cake, decorated with VINAKA (thank you) piped on the top.

“Is a cake a good gift to give someone?” I asked Jacob. I wanted to confirm this idea so we could thank people this way for the rest of our time in Fiji.

“Oh yes,” he said, “cakes are for a special treat, birthdays, special visitors, and Christmas, so they are always appreciated.”

And so the Navire ‘Thank you cake’ tradition came into being.

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It was so hot teh icing kept sliding off the cake!

 

 

Kavala Church Day Lunch

Kavala Church Day Lunch

Out To Lunch

July, 2015 (posted from Majuro January 2017)

“Bula, bula, bring your dinghy over here,” Jovesa gestured to a little beach off the end of the seawall.

We’d come in to the village early on the Sunday morning of our second week in the village. David was going to help fix Jovesa’s outboard pull-chord, before going to the church over on the other side of the bay. While the men communed down at the boats Joe’s oldest daughter Luisa invited me up to their house. It was a typical village house, a kitchen, living room and two bedrooms, no internal doors. Lusi gestured for me to sit on couch.

I pointed at some lemons on the kitchen table in the other room.

“Could I gather some of those?” I’d come armed with a list of local produce to shore up our dwindling supplies.

“Veronika!” Lusi called. Her 10 year-old sister came running inside. “Go and get Janet some lemons,” she ordered in rapid Fijian. Veronika grabbed a supermarket bag and ran outside.

“Last week I picked some basil at a house near here, could we go and get some more?” I asked.

“What is basil?” Lusi asked.

“It has a strong sweet smell and Fijians use it in a tea for coughs.”

“Ahh,” she nodded. “Come, come.”

We gathered sprigs of basil and a bunch of bele, a green leaf used like spinach. As we passed a baigani bush, eggplant, Lusi picked half a dozen of the small black fruit and added them to my bag. Bliss.

***

Down at the seawall David and Joe had made good progress on repairing the pull-chord.

David looked up “Time to go?”

I nodded. He went up to the house to put on his Sunday best. Laughter rang from inside as David modeled his clothes for the women of the house, and consulted them about what was most appropriate to wear to church. Trousers not sulu, Shirt tucked in, and not out, was the verdict.

***

We arrived at the other side of the bay at the same time as Jean Pierre and Dana. They had done sevusevu here so proudly showed us around “their village”. We’d motored across to Kavala Village to attend a combined church service. On the first Sunday of each month Methodists from the several villages in the bay gathered at one or other of the villages in turn.

We were seated in the front row of the high roofed, whitewashed house of God. The first bars of the choir’s opening song resonated in my chest. When the male voices joined in I felt the bass notes vibrate down to my toes. The sopranos followed and lifted my soul up to the rafters.

I can see how gospel music helps people find God, I thought. Two hours soon passed with song after song of stunning choral music.

We’d been invited to join the Solotavui Village contingent for lunch afterwards.

“The host village puts on the food,” Luisa, our hostess from the first day, explained, “and each village eats in a separate house.”

Just as we were heading for the ‘Solotavui’ house we got invited by the pastor to what turned out to be the VIP lunch. He led us through the village, stopping for us to shake hands and say hello to half the congregation.

Taking our shoes off at the door, we entered the village community hall where a long cloth lay across the floor, set with crockery and cutlery, and groaning with plates of food.

“Please sit,” the pastor gestured to the floor at one end of the ‘table’. Once we were seated everyone else sat. One of the pastors said grace and indicated for us to start.

The food vibrated with freshness. No food miles incurred here. First, fried fish and rourou (taro leaf). It swam in coconut cream, probably grated and squeezed less than an hour ago. So succulent and sweet, melt in the mouth. I finely chopped a red chili and added it to my bowl with a squeeze of lemon, as I’d learned to do at lunch at the chief’s. A few people nodded approvingly. My neighbour sawed off a hunk of taro for me to dip into the juices. Next I tried the ota. This is a fern similar to baby punga fern fronds in New Zealand. Crisp and crunchy it was served raw in coconut cream with tinned mackerel. I went back for more.

“What’s that?” I pointed to some dark meat on a saucer.

“Wild pork,” my neighbour told me.

“From up there?” I pointed at the hills behind the village. “With a gun?”

“No, with a spear.”

Other bowls were laden with chop suey and curry, but teeming with the ubiquitous Ramen noodles, so I passed on those.

Over the course of the meal a number of other people wandered in the room and sat down behind the diners. Most people got up when they had finished so others could take their place but we were told to stay put.

When we had finished eating the food was moved to one end of the cloth and the ladies from the kitchen brought us tea and large chunks of cake topped with pumpkin custard.

Finally the cooks sat down and ate what was left of the main course. We lingered much of the afternoon and motored back to the boat replete once again.

 

Lovo for lunch

Lovo for lunch

Out To Lunch

Kavala, Solotavui

June 28 (posted from Majuro January 2016)

 

“What’s the menu for?” I asked, gesturing out the door. A hand-written notice was taped to the wall at the shop entrance, I recognised the words ‘menu’ and ‘$20’, and a few Fijian food words.

“It’s for a lovo,” the girl behind the counter said, “food cooked in the ground.”

“Whole chicken, fish, palusami, and raw fish” her mother told us, “at noon on Friday.”

 

We were at the local bread shop in Kavala Bay on the island of Kadavu. We’d motored the dinghy along the edge of a bank of seemingly impenetrable mangroves when an opening appeared. Puttering along slowly we peered into the muddy water, trying to monitor the depth to make sure we didn’t catch our propeller on the bottom. After paddling the last few metres we tied the dinghy to a tree, and asked the first person we saw where the shop was.

“Up there,” said the woman, “blue house.” She pointed to a muddy track.

The locating of shops here is very different to how we do it in New Zealand. Foot traffic – not a consideration. For example the shop in the bay near where Navire is anchored is a 15-minute walk from the nearest village.

“Is the shop over there because it has a wharf?” I had asked Luisa, our local host.

“No, that is where their family land is,” she said matter-of-factly.

Same with the bread shop, up the back of three other houses and no signage down on the road to alert us to its presence. I guess everyone knows where it is.

***

Friday came and our French-Canadian neighbours, from yacht Vanille, motored over to join us for the lunch outing. On the way across the bay we stopped in at Solotavui Village to deliver a chocolate cake to Luisa and her family, a gift to say thank you for their help. This village seemed moderately prosperous (from yaqona production) and giving the usual basic food items like tinned corned beef didn’t seem appropriate. But a cake, we thought, is a treat because most people don’t have conventional ovens.

Luisa was out so we gave the cake to her mother. Within seconds ten small children materialized. They sat on the mat in two rows like they were at school, eyes glued to the cake the whole time we were there. Later we heard that almost every child in the village had a piece.

Motoring on we arrived at the rocky inlet near the shop and guided Jean-Pierre and Dana up the muddy path to the blue house. Paying our $20 to the girl behind the counter, we sat outside on a concrete slab discussing where we would eat the food. Two women emerged from the shop with our ‘lovo’, two baskets woven from coconut palms loaded with foil wrapped food, each topped with a pink hibiscus flower.

Before we’d had a chance to unload our plates and cutlery and set up our picnic on the concrete one of the women said “Wait!” and they both went back inside. Moments later they came out carrying a table between them and proceeded to set it up under a little shelter on the far edge of the platform. Then out came a man with four chairs and a tablecloth. They clearly understood kaivlangi needs.

Table set, I undid the foil bundles releasing smoky meaty flavours. Our feast consisted of a whole chicken each, a piece of rather well done tuna, the best palusami (taro leaves cooked in coconut cream) I’ve ever had, a whole breadfruit, and two separate containers, one with kokoda, marinated fish, and the other cassava in caramel sauce. We tucked in.

While licking our fingers and packing up our picnic one of the women came to chat. It transpired that the lovo was a fundraiser for the local school. We dug into our pockets and added a large tip. It was definitely worth every cent.

Lunch with the Chief

Lunch with the Turaga (Chief)

Out to Lunch

Kavala, Solotavui

June 28 (posted from Majuro January 2016)

“What time is church?” I asked.

“10 o’clock.” said chief Jale.

“It’s five to ten now, we should go,” I said to David. It was Sunday and we were sitting on a woven pandanus mat on the floor of Jale’s house.

“No, no, wait for the drums.” explained Jale “They sound three times. First time to say you should go to church. Second time to say you should be there already, and last one for the pastor to come.”

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Chief Jale

We’d been in the anchorage at Kavala Harbour in Kadavu for a week and decided it was time to go to church. We are not religious but I knew from my Cook Island days that the church singing could be exceptional. And I have to confess, it’s a good way of getting invited for lunch in someone’s home.

Leaving the men to commune I stood in the kitchen doorway and chatted to Seru, Jale’s wife, while she peeled and chopped potatoes.

“What are you making?” I asked.

“Chicken soup.” She described the dish’s ingredients and seemed to enjoy my curiosity about local foods.

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Seru, Jale’s wife

As we talked I kept glancing at the clock behind Jale, 10.10, 10.15.

Not yet fully immersed in the concept of ‘Fiji time’ I nudge David, “We should go.”

“Okay.”

“Come back after church for lunch,” Jale said.

“We’d love to,” I said, delighted.

We wandered along the path towards the church accumulating a flock of children. We were never to walk through this village without an entourage.

Luisa came out of the house next to the church.

“Come, come,” she beckoned us inside.

We sat cross-legged on the floor with twenty children and joined in the rounds of singing, “I must obey, my lord Jisu”. Such sweet sounds. The children kept looking at us, maybe surprised these kaivalagi can sing? At the second beating of the drum we all trooped into the church, most of the congregation sitting in the choir pews.

The pastor spoke in Fijian with a few words in English for us. The highlight of the service the multipart harmonies of the choir. By the time we had shaken hands with the pastors and congregation after the service we had two other lunch invitations, which we sadly and politely declined.

Back at the chief’s a cloth was laid out on the floor set for ten. Several women bustled around in the kitchen. One dish after another were laid out on the cloth. Bowls piled with steaming boiled cassava, ready to accompany soup, and bowls of chicken with noodles and bele, a green leaf from the bush outside the door. I noticed the chief putting chopped fresh red chili and squeezing lemon into his soup. I followed suit. Wow, what a zing it gave the meal. I’ve adopted this practice on a nearly daily basis.

“Eat,” commanded Seru, passing me fish in coconut cream, then a bland yellow chicken curry. And then chicken, in tomato sauce, Watties I believe. I tried everything but stayed with the soup, mopping it up with cassava and bright yellow vudi, a starchy banana boiled and served like potato.

We left replete, loaded up with a pile of vudi and bele. Time to get cooking Fijian style.

***

Making Rourou Soup

Making Rourou Soup

Out To Lunch

July 2015, Fiji (posted from Majuro, 2017)

I’m having a rest. Soup-making is exhausting. Sa’e and family are coming for dinner tomorrow night. I want to do a kind of kaivlangi (white person) take on Fijian food. It’s been nearly two weeks since the markets of Suva and we ran out of greens days ago, so I leafed through my treasured Pacific Island Mea Kai cookbook for a recipe. Chilled rourou soup. Sounds like something worthy of a restaurant menu I thought. David managed to get me a bundle of taro leaves, called rourou in Fijian, from the local shop owner. For free. We pay for anything they bring in from Suva, but anything they grow they won’t take money for. I think it is part of the culture that says anything you grow is to be shared.

Do I have all the ingredients? – Rourou yes – local, onions (alas imported) yes, fresh ginger yes -local, coconut cream – open a tin, no tins left. Make my own. Local.

I’ve been in this region for six weeks now and to my shame I have not made fresh coconut cream yet. David had acquired a few grating coconuts in his travels so I set him to work. First he lopped them in two with his trusty machete. I fossicked around in the dive gear locker and dug out my rather rusty coconut grater. I bought it in Tonga on our sailing trip up there in 2010. However, my history with the implement goes back to 1985 when I was working as a film caterer in the Cook Islands. There were always sacks of brown coconuts stacked in the storeroom of the hotel kitchen. Whenever a dish required coconut cream one of the local women who were working in the kitchen would set herself up on a chair, a large bowl on the floor, put the grater between her legs and in moments would have grated and squeezed litres of thick creamy white coconut liquid.

My efforts are a little slower. I grate, grate, grate and rest, rest, rest, slowly slowly, slowly building the requisite muscles.

I’m also going to use some of the cream in our sundowner cocktail tonight.

***

1800

The sun is about to set and I haven’t made my soup yet. However the coconut cream mixed with vodka, Roses lime and fresh lime is the ultimate taste of the tropics on my tongue. The food miles of the coconut cream so low I can almost feel its vibrations. We sit back in the cockpit and feel virtuous.

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***

Next morning I’m back to the soup. Step one – boil the taro leaves for 15 minutes. If you don’t, when you eat the rourou your mouth tingles uncomfortably like you’ve eaten stinging nettle. Cook off the onions, garlic and coconut cream. Blend. Into the fridge. With the leftover coconut cream I made coconut pannacotta.

Dana and JP, our neighbours from French-Canadian yacht Vanile, came over for afternoon tea and to do a tasting of the evening’s offerings.

“I want to marry you,” said Dana, as she tasted my creamy desert.

I was disappointed when I’d learned earlier that she didn’t like cooking, but I soon learnt that didn’t mean she wasn’t interested in food. She totally gets it.

“If Sa’e and his family don’t turn up you can come for dinner,” I said.

They eagerly agreed.

***

Unfortunately for them Sa’e, Mere and Kunz arrived at dusk. Alas without wife Ala, the local doctor, who was on call.

First course: yagona (kava). This is the first time we’ve had it on the boat. Sai poured kava powder into what looked like an old sock then dipped it in water and squeezed, dunking it several more times. We clumsily clapped in nearly the right places and sipped from the coconut shell. The gentle kava high settled into my brain.

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I served lime coconut chicken pancakes. Seemed to go down alright.

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Second course: Chilled rourou soup. Our guests were impressed that I’d used this local ingredient and made a dish they’d never had.

“This is the first time we have had a meal on a yacht,” said Sa’e.

I was surprised given dozens of yachts come into the bay each season.

Main course – roast chicken, potato cubes and carrots, bok choy, and vudi salad.

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Dessert – coconut pannacotta and rum-roasted Fijian pineapple.

Mere and Sa’e were great company but Kunz acted like he’d been dragged there against his will. 15 year-old boys are the same the world over. (I’m delighted to report that by week three Kunz was always the first to greet us when we came to shore and accompanied us faithfully on our trips around the village. We got very fond of him.)

I think I’m getting my culinary mojo back.