Thursday, September 17, 2009

eating nemo

Rice is the staple food for locals, supplemented by a scant amount of vegetables and fish, and the odd bit of anorexic chicken. Pigs and goats are reserved for special occasions, more so for dogs and cows. Many people survive on one meal per day, and it is common for this to be simply rice with chilli and sea salt. There is no refrigeration, so unless they grow greens in their yard (as many do), fresh vegies are only consumed on market day or soon after.

The lagoon is a vital source of seafood, and both men and women forage at low tide. Anything that moves - other than starfish - is fair game for their nets, spears and hands. Molluscs, crustaceans, slugs, snot-like creatures and fish of any size are captured for the next meal. Sadly, there is not knowledge of conservation, and generational habits of raping the reef will likely continue as population increases, leaving the lagoon barren, and the locals shifting to a diet of highly processed and nutritionally void food. I have tried to talk to them about sparing the undersized fish and am met with a laugh or vacant stare of mistrust. Their baskets look like an aquarium of tropical fish that I am sure are not usually prize eating. Angel, clown and parrot fish; their colours vibrant in the sunshine as they gasp their last breath.

Fish is caught and brought to shore where it is divided equally and taken home, or eaten immediately over the coals. Skin, scales, guts and all. Straight in the fire as humans have been doing for eons. That’s the meal : no sauce, no side dish, no dessert, no plate, no problem.

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thanks for taking the time

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