” Making the best tama(tama) or kakasi isn’t a full time job, but many women now get a cash return for producing their village delicacies, thereby quantifying their efforts in an important way.
The VKRs are paying off because women at home are using the family village kitchen to make, bake, braise, boil, roast, fry, steam and smoke foods that are fetching cash. Often before I leave Buka on weekends I often place an order for seafood so it will be ready when I reach the village to enjoy on my own or share with family and friends. This is a feel good and taste good story.”
Simon Pentanu official Bougainville food taster
The 2017 Election is almost in the past now. The many campaign visits by candidates and their entourage of supporters have come and gone. In the village it is back to normal life.
For the women this includes going back to gardening, the usual kitchen chores, including making tama(tama) for the household, for visitors and travellers that come by, or for cultural occasions to which everyone has to contribute cooked and uncooked garden food and seafood and tama(tama).
My sister’s Village Kitchen Rules (VKRs) ensure there is minimal disturbance and distraction by those that have no business in the kitchen. She is best plying certain kitchen skills for ambrosian dishes on her own.
Ordinary village kitchens are also bakeries that churn out cookies, buns and doughnuts on a daily basis for sale in the village and at the Mangkaki fish market across on the mainland.
The old assumption that a woman’s place is in the kitchen has been turned on its head by these smart and resourceful women who are using their kitchens to produce mouth-watering delicacies that lubricate the social wheels and provide a steady income.
With a population guesstimate of some 700 men, women and many children, Pok Pok has a ready market for the homemade cookies, buns and wrapped and packed seafood. Tama(tama), which is prepared only by women, is the most popular delicacy for visitors.
In addition to selling at the popular fish market on the mainland during the day there are now night markets by the village main street by lanterns and Chinese solar lamps making it possible for women to sell wares, snacks and drinks in the evenings.
The amount of effort that women put in the kitchen from start to finish, is worth paying for. It brings a sense of worth for the person preparing it as well as pride of place in the basic village kitchen where it happens.
So, here are my sister’s VKRs – the rules she expects men and boys in our extended family to observe, especially when she has been asked to make tama(tama) or kakasi.
1. men are not allowed to get in the way
2. don’t offer advice unless asked, the food will
be ready in time
3. don’t complain about delayed service – perhaps you didn’t fetch enough firewood
4. eat everything you are served, there is no
‘cleaning up’ after
5. it is insulting not to try local food – remind
your foreign visitors
6. say nice things about the cook and the
7. don’t talk too much while eating – you won’t
enjoy it as much
8. there are no doggy bags in the village – eat
9. hands were made before spoons and forks, my cutlery been borrowed
10. there are no dishes to do after meals, this avoids complaints about doing dishes
Bougainville Tourism _Chocolate Festival
Book your tour visit to the Bougainville Chocolate Festival 6 and 7 September thru International tours and accommodation services at Bougainville Experience Tours www.bougtours.com
Or Direct through Uruna Bay Retreat Pok Pok Island a few minutes from Arawa