The delights of dining in the South Pacific
What’s not to like about the South Pacific? In fact, this region of endless island paradises has every delight to the senses you can imagine, and it’s no small wonder that those who have had the good fortune to visit continue to have fantasies about life on a tropical island for life. But amidst the delights of warm, tropical weather, endless pristine beaches, and stunningly beautiful surroundings, the delight of food continues to stand out on every one of the islands in the South Pacific.
The freshest seafood, tropical fruits and whole roasted pig, sometimes served on plain banana leaves instead of a plate just to drive home the fact that you’re really in the South Pacific, is truly one of the experiences that you will always remember. And there will be lots to remember from your trip to the South Pacific islands. Yes, you will remember forever those treks through the lush jungle, seeing brightly colored birds flitting around the branches, and snorkeling in the warm water and witnessing the abundant underwater life that before you came to the South Pacific, you thought only existed in Disney cartoons. But the food-the food is an experience that you will treasure, and remember forever.
European and Asian fusion
In many parts of the South Pacific, such as French Polynesia, you will find a major influence from Europe, especially France, in the cuisine. But the culture and the cooks of the South Pacific have taken that influence and made it something uniquely their own, incorporating the best, freshest ingredients from the local surroundings, and bringing in traditional cooking methods and seasonings.You’ll be able to enjoy cuisine from around the world, especially on the larger island cities that have a heavy tourist trade. You’ll find plenty of restaurants featuring European and Asian cuisine, especially near the higher-end hotels and resorts; many such restaurants feature some of the finest chefs in the world. And although you’ll enjoy the finest French, Italian, and Chinese cuisine throughout the islands, don’t neglect the local favorites and traditional menus either.
Traditional dining in the South Pacific
In Fiji, you may be able to enjoy a lovo, a traditional feast, which is as much fun to see being prepared as it is to eat. The traditional lovo is a type of traditional cooking method, which prepares food in a pit, full of heated rocks and covered by banana leaves. The fire pit is common in many of the South Pacific islands, and in French Polynesia, it’s called an ahima’a. Once prepared, the delicious food is traditionally enjoyed while sitting on the floor, using one’s fingers. For the ultimate in traditional feasting, the tamara’a in Tahiti is the ultimate experience. The huge feast is traditionally enjoyed with song and dance, complete with beautiful traditional costumes. Almost all of the islands of the South Pacific have some form of traditional feast, and each one is as fascinating as the next. Chances are, your resort may even sponsor one, or the concierge can give you advice on where to find one.Along with your traditional food, you’ll need a traditional drink, and this would be kava, an unusual drink made from roots and having a slightly intoxicating effect and a peculiar, almost muddy flavor. Another popular drink, especially around Tahiti, is noni juice, a fruit juice reputed to have restorative properties. And if you’re just looking for a quick meal, there’s no better place to look than one of the traditional street carts. If you’re in Tahiti, these will take the form of a brightly colored cart, or Roulotte, offering excellent samplings of local dishes at very reasonable prices.
Australia and New Zealand
Let us not neglect the fabulous cuisine of Australia and New Zealand, which is every bit as varied and exciting as anywhere in the world. Food here is an incredible mix of world influences, often incorporating an Asian theme. You’ll find plenty of Indian, Chinese, and Thai restaurants in most of the major cities, not to mention “Modern Australian” cuisine, one of the more popular food movements in Australia.”Modern Australian” food is really fusion, which takes a lot of influence from Japanese, Indian, and Thai food, also bringing in a little bit of Mediterranean styles as well for a truly exotic blend. It focuses on using plenty of local, extremely fresh ingredients, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you explore Australia’s Modern Australian food. Every chef has his or her own take on what it means, and as a result, every restaurant will have a different interpretation-and that makes for some exciting dining experiences.Of course, Modern Australian brings up the question of traditional Australian food. Before the Modern Australian food movement, everyday Aussie fare was mostly British style, but let’s get even more traditional than that. The indigenous people enjoy “bush tucker,” and it’s not too hard to find a good kangaroo steak. And of course, the ubiquitous barbeque, or “Barbie,” is held everywhere and found in most restaurants, although the best barbeques can be found in a friendly Aussie’s back yard.
Your South Pacific Culinary Adventure
People come to the South Pacific for any number of reasons, not the least of which is romance. But food stands out on the top of the list, and after all, most of the world’s greatest aphrodisiacs are food-based, and the best romantic evenings start with an elegant meal with candlelight and soft music. But whether you’re alone, with a loved one, or just a group of friends, your culinary tour of the South Pacific will be truly memorable. Your food tour of the South Pacific absolutely must include both traditional and new cuisine, native and fusion, elegant resort hotels and low-budget street stalls. From island to island, onto Australia and New Zealand, you’ll find new experiences everywhere you turn.