Senin, 09 Maret 2009

West Papuan Traditional Food

There are two types of staple food in West Papua.

1. Sago, mostly consumed by Papuans in coastal areas: Biak, Serui, Jayapura, Merauke, etc. People don't normally grow sago as they grow wild all over the coastal areas. Normally people do not work hard here, fish is available, pork and others are in the jungles, and sago grows everywhere.

2. Sweet Potato, we who in the highlands grow and eat this as our staple food. Our main source of protein is pork, and also culturally very valuable. It was used to pay bride-price, pay fines, buy forests/trees to build houses, and it still has a very high value here. We work hard here to make garden, plant, breed, and grow the crops and animals, no wild pigs here as those in the coastal areas.

Coastal Papuans are generally referred to as the Austro-Melanesians, ancestors originated from Asia. Highlands are Papua-Melanesians, ancestors until today are not yet identified, but generally referred to as native Papuans in this land.

Our common meal and how is it prepared.
The meal is prepared with a method in Indonesian called "bakar batu" or "bake the stones", which means, heat the stones with fires. Dig hole on the ground, put grass, then put the hot stones on the grass, cover the stones with more grass, put the meal: normally sweet potatoes first, then put the stones on top of the potatoes. After this, put the grass again, then put the vegetables (such as cabbages, spinach, sweet-potato leaves, cassava leaves, papaya leaves, etc.), or fruits like cucumber, corn, etc.
We can mix meat with vegetables, just like in a pan in the Western and other modern society. So vegetables are mixed with the meat, well not mixed as in the West but they spread the taste and smell well over, to make it nice...

Mostly men prepare the fires, heat the stones, find the woods, find the grass, slaughter the meat, (or hunt) and women clean the meals in the water/stream, then prepare the meal, and sit on the side of the hole and put the meals into the "cooking pan" (which is the ground for us), then men help them by handing out hot stones (women mostly wait on the ground to give order to men where to put the stones, etc)

After all, we cover the cooking up with more grass and leave them for about an hour. Before opening, men go first to sort out the grass, then women can go some minutes later to open. Women are responsible to decide which meal to go which group (We do not eat individually in separate plates and spoons. We put meal on the ground for some people, we sit for meals in groups of young people, boys, girls, etc.)Our Drink West Papuan drink pure water and mostly unboilled one. We have pure and fresh water. But now it is changing, we are advised to boil water beforehand.

On the coastal areas, they also drink "saguer", and what I call Papuan wine, made out of coconut fruit. Taste coconut, but some minutes later, it shows its power.
We get water from its source, from the ground, stream, etc.

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