Grabbing a Bite in Papua New Guinea

It's early in the morning and we're cruising down the Karawari River in Papua New Guinea, stopping at villages along the way. Why do this by boat? Because there are no roads that connect any of these villages! This is the reason that 600 languages are spoken on this island off the coast of Australia. Each village is so isolated from each other that that new languages developed based on geographic isolation.

The first sight we see is a lady in what looks to be in a kayak, making a fire and cooking fish. What's up with this?

My first thought was, "Isn't this a little selfish feeding yourself? Doesn't she take care of her family?" I found out that this was precisely the point. In this lady's tribe, the division of labor is such that she is in charge of the meals for her family. She gets up at the crack of dawn and goes fishing. When she catches her fish, she makes a fire, cooks some of the fish and then eats a few. This provides her with nutrition so that she can then feed her family!

The lady and her family live in this one room hut. It is a wide open space with the kitchen area in the corner. The family eats two meals daily. The entire time I was in Papua New Guinea, I never saw an obese person.

My curiosity peaked, seeing what dinner would become was now of interest to me. I didn't have to look far because soon I came across a mother and son extracting the pulp from a sago palm.

After this process is complete the pulp is taken to an open hut where the woman adds water to it.

From here the pulp is discarded and boiling water is added. The flour that is formed gets cooked on the grill.

This forms a viscous solution, or pudding, to which vegetables can be added. This woman now has dinner for her family!

What I've noticed in my travels in the third world is that what would seem like monotony to me, such as eating the same diet with little variety, the natives are happy. Many seem to be smiling and enjoy the making of pudding as a communal experience. They've been doing this for hundreds of years. Americans should grab a bite in Papua New Guinea. They might learn something.