Food & drink Feed

Could PNG’s kaukau crops be threatened?

Kaukau1
Cultivating kaukau in the highlands - there are 1,000 varieties of sweet potato in PNG alone

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the sweet potato is the world’s seventh most important crop in terms of the weight of food produced.

Sweet potato was first domesticated in the Americas more than 5,000 years ago but didn’t reach Papua New Guinea until about 500 years ago.

When it did it created major shifts in settlement patterns and accelerated population growth.

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Reject the ban on street food. It is not a real solution

Cooked Food
A lazy solution to what? Port Moresby residents warned not to sell cooked food in public places

BUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO

PORT MORESBY - The informal economy in Port Moresby is once again under siege. The National Capital District Commission (NCDC) is about to introduce another ban.

This time the ban will target street sellers of cooked food and betel nut (buai) and will come into force on 22 or 23 March.

The last time NCDC introduced a ban was the controversial buai ban that caused great disruption and even deaths and was eventually replaced by a partial prohibition after the ban turned into a game of cat and mouse as buai smuggling became a new phenomenon.

The stories of abuse, harassment and death that unfolded at the height of the ban remain fresh in the minds of city residents.

Defiant betel nut vendors buoyed by the prospect of huge gains colluded with law enforcers to smuggle large quantities of buai into the city.

Continue reading "Reject the ban on street food. It is not a real solution" »


The most perfect meal ever - Simbu Christmas turkey

Peter hsPETER KRANZ

WELL first you need some Simbu sausages.

These are made from chicken guts, thoroughly washed and cleaned and filled with a mixture of chicken mince, breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, onions, spices, chilli and ginger. And maybe some pork belly grease - fried and poured off.

Add salt and pepper and whatsoever spice you think necessary (chopped green chilli is good if you like hot stuff).

Mash it all up and force it into the chook's backside.

Continue reading "The most perfect meal ever - Simbu Christmas turkey" »


Foreign owned companies serving poison on PNG plates

Food platePNG EXPOSED | Edited

UNDER Section 3 of the Investment Promotion Regulations 1992, certain businesses are reserved for citizens, ‘fast food take-away, kai bars of all descriptions including mobile delivery food service’.

“Really?” you ask. Yes, really. That is what the regulations say.

But this didn’t prevent Chinese nationals Xing Wu Zhou and Zhongshen Zhang setting up kai bars through their company J & Z Trading Limited.

On 11 March 2007, husband and wife Anita and Andrew Baikisa of Madang purchased fried rice from J & Z, expecting to enjoy their lunch under the shade of a nearby tree. Their enjoyment was short-lived.

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How kaukau created the Melanesian Way

PNG scientist Dorcas Homare (right) and an assistant with improved sweet potatoPHIL FITZPATRICK

I grow sweet potato as a ground cover in the shadier spots of my garden in Hervey Bay – places where the grass doesn’t grow - but I also dig it up to eat.

In Queensland and most Australian supermarkets and green grocers, an orange-skinned version is sold. It is very sweet and has the consistency of pumpkin when cooked.

Often they don’t call it sweet potato but kumara, which is a South Pacific Maori word.

Occasionally you can get a purple-skinned variety which has nice white flesh, is less sweet, pithier and similar to what I’m used to from Papua New Guinea. This is the main one I grow in my garden.

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Rains have come but PNG’s Kandep still needs more relief supplies

Fr Taison Kuringi, chairman district relief committeeDANIEL KUMBON

FATHER Taison Kuringi, local priest of Mang Catholic Mission at Kandep in Enga Province, volunteered to chair the District Frost Relief Committee when the crop-killing frosts hit in August.

Fr Kuringi (pictured) saw at first hand the extent of destruction caused by the prolonged El Nino induced drought, frosts and hailstorms.

He also saw the bushfires everywhere in Kandep bringing even more devastation to an already deteriorated situation - including seven houses at Lopte village burnt to ashes, the blame heaped on one reckless man who started the fire.

Thirty-four pigs were paid immediately as compensation to avert an imminent tribal fight.

Kandep has suffered the worst disaster in recorded time and Fr Kuringi’s heart ached to see the people suffer. He wanted to help as best he could.

Even today, you can see the heaps of stones marking the sites on the trade routes where people perished from hunger during past disasters.

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El Nino strikes Bena Bena with a devastating impact

Kerry KimiafaKERRY KIMIAFA

THE Bena Bena area lies west of Goroka and is predominantly a savannah grassland valley with the Bena River a blessing in this semi-arid habitat.

Because of its geography and vegetation, the Bena Bena area is highly vulnerable to the effects of prolonged drought and El Nino. This was evident in 1997 and we have a replica of those conditions this year.

On a recent visit to Kopafo village in the area, I observed a number of serious effects including the dry beds of creeks and streams which cause people to walk many kilometers to get water.

Ropes and leaves of kaukau wither as a result of the earth cooking and people are now dependent on cassava, certain species of banana, African yams, pumpkins and sugar cane.

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The exploding mumu - a cautionary tale involving geology

Rabaul mumu schematicPETER KRANZ

YOUNG Joseph was an exemplary youngster and he loved his grandparents and did their bidding.

But one day this trust took a disastrous turn.

He had been told to collect some stones from the nearby wara to help make a mumu.

Now, if you don 't know, the mumu is are prepared in a pit with the first ingredient being red-hot stones. But not just any stones - they have to be mumu stones.

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A refreshing recipe for tropical dining – pukpuk kebabs

PETER KRANZ

Crocodile kebabsHERE'S SOMETHING a bit different from Darwin. And it’s delicious. Quick and easy pukpuk kebabs.

Take some lean chunks of crocodile tail meat, cut into chunks around a two inch square.

Mix some yogurt, tandoori paste, salt and pepper, chili, garlic, the juice of one lemon and shredded ginger. Add the croc pieces.

Refrigerate for an hour or two, preferably overnight.

Thread the croc meat pieces on skewers interspersed with sliced zucchini, okra, onion, tomato and green peppers.

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The trials of J J ‘Mangrove’ Murphy, 1914-97

BY PHILIP SELTH OAM

IN EARLY 1946 AT LAE, Captain John Joseph Murphy, a former Papua New Guinea Patrol Officer and Coastwatcher on New Britain was tried by court-martial.

He was charged with having ‘treacherously given intelligence to the Japanese’ and, under section 40 of the Army Act, with ‘conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline’ in that while a prisoner-of-war he gave to the Japanese more than his name, rank and number.

The charges, two of which carried the death penalty, were based on a captured document purportedly a record of Murphy’s interrogation when captured and statements taken by the Allies from Japanese soldiers at the end of the War.

Defended by his cousin, the Sydney QC Eric Miller, Murphy was honourably acquitted of all charges.

Murphy had spent more than a year as a prisoner of the Japanese at Rabaul.  Only seven of the original 63 prisoners in the Tunnel Hill camp survived; Murphy was the only Australian. 

The court-martial arose from information Murphy allegedly gave the Japanese when he was captured in October 1943.  At the court martial the defence argued that Japanese documents had been incorrectly translated and that others had given information to the Japanese under torture.

After the war, Murphy returned to PNG, finishing his career as District Commissioner of the Gulf District, based at Kerema.

A film documentary is now being made on John Murphy’s life.  A radio program on the ABC is imminent. 

Attempts have been made to persuade the [federal] government to posthumously recognise John Murphy’s service as a Coastwatcher and in helping keep fellow prisoners alive in Rabaul.

But not everyone accepts the court-martial verdict.

Murphy was a well-regarded Administration officer.  His actions in the Rabaul POW camps clearly saved lives.  For that alone he deserves recognition.

But how can one explain the captured Japanese documents and testimony of Murphy’s interrogators?  Records now available show the case the defence mounted at the court-martial was in part flawed. The prosecution and conduct of the case, too, was flawed. Today, it is most unlikely the case would get to trial.

John Murphy does deserve public recognition for his time as a POW. But one cannot simply say the court-martial should never have been held.  There were questions to be answered (although they should have been addressed by an inquiry rather than by a court martial.)

I am writing a biography of Eric Miller QC, having written his entry for the Australian Dictionary of Biography.  In the course of my research into Miller QC’s life, I stumbled upon John Murphy’s story, with which I have become fascinated.  (Others use the term ‘obsessed’.)

So I am now trying to juggle my professional and family life with researching and writing two biographies, both about Australians who deserve greater recognition that they have received to date.

Philip Selth is Executive Director of the New South Wales Bar Association and a former President of the Canberra & District Historical Society.  This note was originally published in the CDHS Newsletter from a paper Mr Selth  gave at the National Archives of Australia, Canberra, on 13 July 2010


A Simbu Christmas turkey or chicken recipe

BY PETER KRANZ

Simbu ChickenWELL FIRST YOU NEED some Simbu sausages. These are made from chicken guts, thoroughly washed and cleaned and filled with a mixture of chicken mince, breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, onions, spices, chilli and ginger. And maybe some pork belly grease - fried and poured off.

Add salt and pepper and whatsoever spice you think necessary (chopped green chilli is good if you like hot stuff).

Mash it all up and force it into the chook's backside.

Then put in a pan with onions, carrots, kaukau, and strong banana and transfer to a pot with a pint of water and a Maggi cube.  Cover with foil and simmer for two hours.

Lemon grass is OK to add if you can get it.

And add a glass of sherry halfway-through. Or half a bottle of chardonnay.

If it's too runny, add half a teaspoon of gravy mix and stir thoroughly for five minutes. Or flour - but this is not recommended.  Makes it tasteless.

Better to reduce it by carefully watched boiling.

Black peppercorns are a good addition. And a fresh bay leaf.

Serve with basmati rice and greens.

The most perfect meal ever!


On the much-maligned hawkers of Mosbi

BY PETER KRANZ

Fish Trader, Port MoresbyIF YOU LIVE IN PORT MORESBY for a while (and not just on Shit Scared Hill) you realise there are an amazing variety of street traders doing the rounds of the housing estates every week.

It's like 19th century London. Some even have a special song for their arrival.  I've likely been conned, fleeced, amused and bought some bargains from these traders, who come knocking at your door at all hours.

I know I was ripped off a few times. But occasionally you get a bargain. Like the Hagan axe for K20 (I'm looking at it now), the Sepik shield for K80, a kundu drum for K100, the kina shell bride-price necklaces for the same - but above all the seafood.

I managed to get some pretty lovely Trobriand and Sepik carvings, food, vegetables and above all fresh seafood from such people - for example the terrorist mudcrabs which attacked me (surely secretly working for Al Quaida), a 10 lb barramundi about two hours fresh, and even some noisy and whingeing chooks that I fed and gave names to.

But the best was the huge Red Emperor.

I was planning Christmas dinner and thought some seafood would be nice. My favourite fisherman came to the door on Christmas Eve with this giant Red Emperor in a bucket of seawater. He was still kicking (the fish that is). So I thought it would be a good buy.

"How-mas dispela?"

"K120"

"Tumas - maski K80?"

"Mi laikim K100."

So we settled on a price.

I'd got a seven kilo Red Emperor for little more than $50 for a Christmas eve feast.

But the old bubu fisherman has another condition.  It was dark - around 8 pm. "Please, yu drive mi home."

So I did. To the wilds of the Morauta settlement - in the dark - in the Car from Hell.

Not far, but exciting.

We only got held up once, and broke down once. My old friend berated the raskols roundly and they let us pass.

"Displela laikim mi tru. He buy pis long mi. Letim pass"

And so they did. And next day we enjoyed the best fish Christmas Eve dinner I have ever had, complete with kaukau, taro, greens and panpan - cooked in banana leaves over an open fire (with coconut milk, gene and chili of course).


Arokara: A highlands coffee well worth the journey

Arokara Coffee IN THE Eastern Highlands Province, amongst the rugged peaks and remote valleys and in the shadow of Mt Arokara, grows one of the most remarkable coffees the Starbuck organisation says it has ever tasted.

It is called Papua New Guinea Arokara.

“This coffee astounds us with its distinct flavours of bell pepper and green olive, along with a wine-like mouth-feel,” Starbucks says.

“Arokara is a deep-toned coffee with a long finish, well suited for a coffee press or your favourite brewing method.

“We’ve never journeyed farther to source a coffee, but in this case, the road less travelled truly made all the difference.”

Arokara is being mad available for a limited time in Starbucks coffee shops.

Producer: Arokara Coffee farm network

Elevation: 1,067-1,615 metres

Coffee variety: Typica, Bourbon, Arusha

Processing method: Washed

Harvest dates: May - September 2010

Tasting notes: A balanced coffee with flavours that highlight pungent herbals of green olives and fresh bell pepper

Flavour intensity: Medium

Pairing flavours: Cocoa, nuts and soft citrus (such as sweet orange, clementine and honey tangelo)

Source: Starbucks, 9 October
http://www.starbucks.ca/coffee/starbucks-reserve-coffee/papua-new-guinea-arokara


Women’s Bauka Blue: PNG’s newest coffee

ONE OF THE NEWEST coffees in Papua New Guinea is Bauka Blue. It is produced entirely by a dedicated group of women from Aiyura in the Eastern Highlands.

It may not yet be in the same league as some better known coffees, but it’s steadily developing a loyal fan base among missionaries at neighbouring Summer Institute of Linguistics and in Kainantu and Goroka.

Bauka Blue Kofi comes from the green rolling hills of the Aiyura Valley, backdropped by beautiful blue 1,800 metre high mountains in the Obura-Wonenara district. Bauka means “black” in the local Tairora dialect.

“We started it in 2000 as a women’s coffee project, involving ladies around the area where we live at Aiyura,” says Marey Yogiyo.

“We realised that ladies spend a lot of time making and producing quality coffee, however, when everything was done, the men take the coffee to the markets and get all the money.

“We decided to do it ourselves. We help ladies. We pay school fees; attend to health problems. The ladies are happy to work together.”

After picking, processing and drying, women of the Bauka group take their coffee to Arabicas in Goroka for roasting.

“I want to show farmers that we can make and drink our own coffee,” Yogiyo says. “Why should we work so hard and give it to somebody else?”

Coffee production is the backbone of the rural economy in the Highlands and, across the nation, about one-third of PNG’s people depend on coffee production for cash.

Source: Islands Business


Buai for sale – get your buai here!

BY PHIL FITZPATRICK

BETEL NUT is the name given to the seed of the Areca palm.  Its botanical name is Areca catechu.  It grows in parts of the tropical Pacific, Asia and Africa.

Common names for the nut are adike, buai, fobal, gouvaka, kamuku, mak, paan supari, pinlang, sopari, tambul and tuuffel.

The name betel nut is misleading.  Piper betle is an Asian plant whose leaves are chewed with the areca nut and lime (calcium hydroxide).  It is through this association that the areca nut became known as betel nut.

It is not known where Areca catechu originated.  It may have come from the Philippines or an area near there.  Nearly all of the Areca catechu palms that are now cultivated for the nuts were deliberately planted, although wild palms can still be found growing in Malabar, a region in India between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea.

The palms are cultivated in parts of Arabia, China, East Africa, Egypt, Fiji, Hindustan, Indochina, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldive Islands, Melanesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

Cultivation is performed using pre-germinated seeds, like coconuts.  The saplings need to grow in the shade because they can be killed by strong sun.  The palms bear fruit when they are 10 – 15 years of age.  A productive palm can provide fruit for up to 75 years.  They are fairly hardy but prone to fungus infection, especially Ganoderma lucidum.

Betel nuts have been used as a drug for thousands of years.  The practice is thought to have started in south-east Asia and there is archaeological evidence to support this view. 

The Spirit Cave site in Thailand yielded palaeo-botanical remains of Areca catechu, lime and Piper betle that were dated between 7,500 – 9,000 years ago.  This makes it one of the earliest known uses of psychoactive substances.

Betel nut also appears in the literature going back many years. Theophrastus described the nut in 430 BC.  It is also mentioned in Sanskrit texts and Chinese records dating from 150 BC.  In Persia there were 30,000 shops that sold betel nut in the capital during the reign of Khosrau (590 – 628).

The custom of betel nut chewing is so common that raising Areca catechu palms for betel nut is a major economic activity.  It is estimated that 20% of the world’s people are users.  In Papua New Guinea betel nut chewing is as widely pursued as it is in India, mainland south-east Asia and Indonesia.

The effects of chewing betel nut can be compared to a mild amphetamine dose.  It also has an appetite suppressing effect.  Chewing produces large amounts of saliva, hence the red splashes you see everywhere it’s used.  In some parts of the world the nut is chewed with psychoactive mushrooms for a bigger hit.

Overuse of betel nut can cause a feeling of intoxication, convulsions, diarrhoea, dizziness and vomiting.  Long term betel nut chewers will eventually develop permanently stained teeth and are prone to mouth cancer.

You can buy betel nut on the Internet.  It is not illegal in the USA and is shipped from there around the world.  In Taiwan, betel nut booths and their scantily clad female sellers line the roads.

Betel nut is a hidden but significant economic aspect of the countries in which it is grown and sold. 

Prices vary considerably, especially with the dried product and ‘health’ concoctions to which it is added.  In China a fake betel nut has been developed and is sold as the legitimate product.

There is a tremendous opportunity in PNG to commercialise betel nut for worldwide sale but there is also a social cost, similar to tobacco, to consider.  However, as the Chinese move in on the market, it seems only a matter of time before this wider commercialisation happens.


The papaya or pawpaw – well worth growing

BY PAUL OATES

Papaya THOSE OF US who have lived in the tropics know how easy it can be to grow pawpaws. There are now a variety of this South American fruit available including the strawberry pawpaw that has a rich deep red flesh.

My favourite however is the common old garden variety that seems to sprout up from nowhere but probably from where some seeds where thrown away in the past.

Pawpaws can be dried and used later however fresh is best. Keeping the fruit bats (blek bokis) away from ripe pawpaws is always a problem however if you pick the fruit just as it is ripening and store it inside, you can remove much of the temptation.

There is one way I know of for using a pawpaw twice in cooking. If you are unlucky enough to have some meat (pork, beef or chicken) which is a bit tough, you can use a ripe pawpaw to tenderise the meat.

First stand the pawpaw up with the stalk at the top. Insert a sharp, pointed knife into the fruit about 2/3’s of the way up to the top and at an angle of 45%. Slice around in a circular direction until you can lift the top of the pawpaw out like a plug. Inside you will find a hollow and the pawpaw’s seeds.

Pawpaw seeds are covered in a natural meat tenderiser called papain. Place your tough pieces of meat inside the pawpaw and replace the top plug so that it fits together. Push some slivers of bamboo into the cut at 90% to keep the ‘plug’ in place and leave for a few hours but not until the meat goes rancid. When cooked separately, the meat will be deliciously tender however you can now use the pawpaw as a cooking vessel as well.

Here is a cheap yet nutritious meal. After you have removed the meat, scrape out the pawpaw seeds and fill the fruit with a mixture of boiled rice, finely chopped meat or fish (tin fish is OK) and any chopped greens and herbs to your taste.

Try a mixture of chopped spring onions, choko shoots (kru sako), pumpkin shoots, watercress or mint with a little salt and sugar. A freshly beaten egg to help bind the mixture together and a little fresh coconut milk will give a great aroma when cooked.

Wrap the stuffed fruit with banana leaves if it is really ripe and place into a mild oven, camp oven, large saucepan or ground oven (mumu) and leave until pawpaw and the contents are completely cooked through but remove before the pawpaw turns ‘slushy’.

Love Papaya Slice the still hot pawpaw completely down the middle from one end to the other and serve as a complete meal. The fruit and filling to be eaten out of the pawpaw ‘bowl’ with a spoon. A large pawpaw can be sliced into quarters and serve a family of four.

Mmmmm.. I’m getting hungry already just thinking about it.

P.S. This cooking method can also be used with pumpkins when no pawpaws are available.


Vive la difference: foodies in the Simbu

BY PETER KRANZ

Kundiawa market 
There is an enterprising Frenchman living in Kundiawa who owns a string of businesses and an old plane (now defunct and sitting sat the end of the airport. He rides a horse through ‘cowboy
town’. Quite a character.

He had the foresight to establish a French bakery and coffee shop in town, and this has developed into a chain which has spread throughout PNG. There's one at Jacksons airport. Great coffee and pastries!

I happily discovered the bakery on my last day in Kundiawa during a recent visit.

We planned to have a farewell morning tea before our plane left and I volunteered to walk into town and get some nibbles.

I strolled into the French Bakehouse in the middle of a potentially nasty incident when a local man was accused of stealing a bun (resolved peacefully) and came back home loaded with croissants, baguettes, brioche and French pastries. Quite a find for Kundiawa.

Father-in-law took a croissant, said "Nice bun, but it needs vegemite!" and proceeded to ladle a generous helping of the aforementioned Aussie spread onto the chocolate-chip.

I thought it a fitting statement of the union of cultures that you can come across in the most unlikely places.

Photo: Kundiawa Market (Peter Kranz)


Brown or green: SP on tap of the world

SP Bottle For the third year in a row South Pacific Brewery has won a gold medal at the major Monde Selection beer competition in Belgium, the world’s oldest quality beer judging organisation. The latest accolade qualifies SP for a special Grand Gold Medal.

The award shows how a small Pacific nation can take on the best in the world, including the beer giants of Germany and the US. An SP Brewery spokesman said, “This is a testimony to the skill and passion of the production team here at SP. It would not have been possible without consistent commitment to quality and adherence to stringent international standards.”

Cheers.


Organisers get down to business

Organisers_9 It’s good to see the true traditions of ASOPA being maintained. And, as this candid shot shows, they are being maintained ferociously at reunion organising committee meetings. I need not remind readers that it is a strategic verity that any objective will be attained more expeditiously with many bottles of wine of both hues and a table groaning with seafood.

When we speak of maintaining traditions, of course, we go as far back as the Great Paediatrician of ASOPA, Dr Alf Conlon. As Peter Ryan writes of the Colonel whose steely determination brought ASOPA into this world: “Quite unconcerned by personal appearance, when he put on uniform he cut a most unmilitary figure. He smoked, drank and ate liberally, avoided fresh air and shunned exercise; he declared that he was not interested in a long life, and he did not have one.”

Billy Welbourne chuckles into the camera as Bodman removes the succulent flesh of the prawn in three easy strokes and Huggins searches amongst seafood detritus and empty bottles for a lost list. Men who, contrary to the Conlonian philosophy, are interested in a long life and are making sure it’s a good one.


Chicken ASOPA

Thought you’d enjoy hearing about a dish called Chicken Asopa, which is apparently a favourite of chef Juan Carlos Cruz - self-styled 'calorie commando' who, according to the Foodnetwork website, "heads up a saucy swat team to help regular folks deal with their food issues". The dish is five-star rated and is said to serve up to ten people.

1 kilo boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
100 grams bacon, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 medium spicy turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 cup long-grain white rice
3 cups water or chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen peas

Toss chicken with oregano, pepper, paprika, salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil until evenly coated. Brown chicken in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil a large non-stick pot. Add bacon and garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until onion and pepper are tender.

Add tomato, browned chicken, and sausage. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add olives, capers, rice, and water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add frozen peas and simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Sounds good, huh?