It’s been a while since we had a break. Five years to be precise and during that time we’ve worked pretty much 7 days a week to build The Flaming Good Food Company into what it has become today. So when we realised that all the Fly Buys points we’d accumulated would cover an overseas trip we decided a week in Vanuatu sounded like a perfect way to relax. We were also really keen to try some of the areas culinary specialities and look at how very simple, traditional ingredients cooked over open fire produce incredible flavours and great tasting meals.
We visited a local family who has been working hard to create their own ‘restaurant’ by the beach and we were fortunate to be shown how they grow and prepare their own food. Being mindful that this was little more than a shack made from branches and coconut palm leaves we went with an open mind. No running water and no electricity to be seen! You may be aware that Danielle and I actually met when we were Aid workers overseas, so we’re no strangers to the very basic nature of the facilities and the mixture of humility and pride that people have in these circumstances and this was clearly evident as we were given a guided tour.
Root crops such as Sweet Potato (Kumara), Taro, Yams and Breadfruit are grown year-round in this family’s garden and these were served together with chicken curry, rice, salad and wild spinach. The ‘Mama’ very graciously gave us a tour of the ‘kitchen’ which consisted of a metal rack over a small open fire and a pot that resembled a camp oven or large saucepan.
I can honestly say the meal was cooked beautifully and tasted delicious – so much so that when second helpings were generously and enthusiastically offered I didn’t hesitate for long. The wood is used for fuel was Cassis and it really gave the food a savoury smokiness – not as sweet as hickory and not as earthy as olive wood though definitely stronger than any other fruit woods I’ve used in the past. It was thoroughly enjoyable.
We were then treated to some songs played on home-made instruments and a guitar with two strings missing. Sitting on the beach with a sky blue ocean a few feet away we were both filled not just with great food but also with tremendous gratitude to have shared this experience with such beautiful people.
If you’re ever thinking about where to go on holiday I’d highly recommend Vanuatu if you have a sense of adventure. The four and five-star restaurants have their place but you’d be missing out if you didn’t venture off the beaten track and discover the real island people and their traditions.