Fiji: Diversity of People and Diversity of Food
By Shini Somara | Posted on April 24th, 2012
What a mix the people of Fiji are! From Melanesian to Polynesian and influenced by the Dutch, British and Indians — I felt completely at home amongst this culture being of diverse descent myself. En route to our shoot location, we passed the the biggest Hindu temple in the South Pacific. Clearly, there was also a range of other mainstream religions all co-existing. This suggested to me that the Fijian people we were to meet would be very open, welcoming and accepting of us. We were not disappointed!
For me, this shoot location was symbolic. Fiji was the furthest distance I had ever traveled from my birth place in London. For someone as passionate about traveling as I am, this was seriously cool!
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The white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters were the most stunning I have ever seen. Sea beds were often clearly visible for meters down. On our rest day, a small group of us, including Chef Kayne went fishing. The plan was to catch something that Kayne happily offered to cook up for us. Obviously, we were all salivating at the prospect of this! We had a couple of near catches. One fish was so big that as we tried to reel it in, it bent the fish hook and got away. We’re pretty sure it was a Yellowfin Tuna! Needless to say, despite all our efforts, we ended up going for restaurant sushi back on land!
The fish that was successfully caught by the chefs and the Fijians were turned into a traditional dish that I absolutely fell in love with. This simple yet divine dish is called Kokonda. I will definitely try to recreate it when back at home, either using their preferred fish, Mahi Mahi or any other similar white fish. The recipe is so ridiculously straightforward–even I could manage it. Marinate the white fish in lime juice for 20 minutes – the acid of the lime actually changes its molecular consistency; it cooks it. The lime-marinated fish is then transferred to a mixture of coconut milk, chopped up mango, tomatoes and onions and some of my favourite fresh herbs. So healthy and delicious!
Cooking goat to perfection in a traditional ground oven called a Lovo was amazingly impressive on Madison’s part. The meat was gorgeously tender juicy and buttery. With goat being such a delicacy, Madison was a clear winner on this episode – and well-deserved I might add. Madison’s passion and pleasure in hunting and cooking such a regal protein was very evident throughout the cooking competition. He was on top form that day! Again, the rain come down at the end of the day, causing some of the crew vehicles to get stuck in the mud on location (deja-vu). Nevertheless we escaped unscathed and the abundance of frogs residing at our hotel were happily croaking away in the wet weather, perhaps they were just relieved that they escaped the chefs hunt for proteins… this time!
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