Thursday, July 26, 2007

Market Tok Tok

Because I do the ordering of food and shopping for the company, I don’t find it as enjoyable an experience when I’m shopping for myself. When it comes to the markets though, I could spend all day there if I wanted to. Alotau market is probably one of the best I’ve been to in PNG, in terms of safety factor, cleanliness and quality of food. Alotau Market.
Kaure drinking niu (young coconut)
Young boys selling lime (made from burnt coral) at the market entrance.Lime,when chewed with mustard and buai (betel nut) produces the bright red colour that is a common sight on people's mouths in PNG.

In fact any market outside of Moresby city, is a lot more pleasant. Put it down to too many bad marketing experiences in Pom (Port Moresby). If you’re female and alone in Pom walking the streets or in the markets, you can often be targeted by pick pocketers,opportunists etc. So usually it’s best to go with a friend. Here in Alotau, I’m free to go alone, take my time and it’s great not to have to check my back all the time. Our market has very strict regulations also. You can’t litter inside, eat or even chew buai (betel nut) so it’s very clean.

PNG has so many varieties of bananas.

I love green banana chips dipped in soy & chilli sauce

or just cooked with coconut,chicken and aibica. Outside the market are numerous stalls selling

everything from food to cigarettes to buai. A packet of cigarettes in the shops costs K9.00,

here at the market stalls it's K8.00

Another common sight around PNG.

Where you find buai, you'll also find "loose" smokes. Anyone for a hard boiled egg or "juice"? (cordial actually!)

I have to say though, nothing beats the Highlands markets. Having grown up in Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province, I do miss the abundant supply of broccoli, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, lettuce and everything was so huge and cheap! Highlanders definitely know how to garden. Here in Alotau people are only just starting to grow these types of veggies and even then, supply is not consistent. We are more known for our yams and tapioca (casava),bananas,pineapples,mangoes and taro. I never thought I’d miss tomatoes, we only get the cherry ones at the markets and they don’t taste as nice as the ones in the shops. Can you believe one tiny piece of broccoli in the supermarket costs K4.00-K5.00?? It’s crazy and if the container ships haven’t been in for a while to top up on supplies in the shops, cooking a meal can be fairly challenging. I refuse to buy frozen veggies, fresh is best as they say.

It’s nice to experiment with local foods too. If there’s no lettuce, watercress is always good and I like stirfrying veggies using all the different types of greens in the market with a dash of oyster sauce or garlic butter. One thing great about being in Alotau is all the fresh seafood you can buy here especially fish, crabs, squid, shellfish etc. Prices are pretty good too.A large handful of shell fish is usually around K1.00, crabs K3-K5.00 each and fish can range from K5.00 - K20.00 for the really big ones. If I buy fish at the market, I like to cook it on the same day, especially with coconut cream and chilli or baked in the oven with white wine and garlic. Once you’re used to eating fresh fish, there’s no turning back!
Early Saturday morning's the best time to

buy fresh seafood at Alotau market
Shells-great as a soup!

Forest ferns-something I've acquired a taste for

since moving to Alotau.

Some of the more exotic dishes you’ll find at the market include; tree possum, bandicoot or flying fox cooked whole and creamed with coconut!! Ewwww! I’m always one to try anything once so recently I tried the bandicoot (with rice and chillis) which I thought was cuscus (tree possum) and it wasn’t too bad I must say until I reached the paw, then I had to stop…it was so tiny and too much for me to handle! It didn’t help that I had Elaine and Jamon on the side screwing up their faces and saying GROSS!!! As for flying fox? If I close my eyes, yeah maybe but……..ewww….don’t know if I could bring myself to eat something that reminds me too much of something out of Aliens vs. Predator! I mean is there even any meat on those things???!

Flying foxes in coconut cream-

Doesn't this remind you of that scene in Alien vs.

Predator when the Alien's eggs start hatching and

the little aliens start slithering out!Arrghhh!!

Yes this is the badicoot's tail and NO I didn't eat it!

Jamon wasn't too impressed!

Milne Bay women love to bake so they also sell great buns and biscuits at the market. There’s one lady I go to who makes the nicest, crunchiest coconut biscuits with a hint of leukot. Often you’ll see ladies selling bright coloured pandanus baskets and mats-another thing Milne Bayans are known for.

My weakness is usually hot sago and chestnuts eaten with smoked squid, fresh water prawns or shell fish in coconut cream, threaded and sold on a coconut broom stick. Tastes great with fresh seaweed also and you can get all that for under K3.00!

A few bites of this and you're stuffed!


pomrugby said...

Ahhh Arrotau..what a beautiful place. Anyway hi Max!!! How are you??

Manu Narokobi here

eduardo waghorn said...

Sailing into the ocean of blogs I found your interesting space...
Let me read it with calm:)
You got a lot of wonderful pics from Papúa!!
I want to send you sincere and warm greetings from Chile, visit me if you want.