Saturday, December 11, 2010

An AMERICAN Samoan Thanksgiving

I have worked the past 4 Thanksgivings, so one thing I was especially grateful for this year was a day off! Determined to spend my favorite holiday IN the country (a territory of the country, but still American soil), I had a wonderful stay-cation for Thanksgiving break.

Thanksgiving morning was spent with fellow volunteers in Utulei, whose host family created an umu (traditional oven) in which to cook their turkey. An umu takes about an hour to prepare and about 45 minutes to cook the turkey. Sure beats 4-5 hours slaving away in a kitchen, huh?

First, rocks are heated and placed on the ground. Then, the meat and other dishes are added. They, in turn, are covered by more rocks before adding several layers of leaves. Finally, old, wet leaves (or wet newspapers in this case) are added on top to trap the heat and smoke inside the cooking mound.

Adding the food to the umu

Steaming deliciousness

Covering the umu with banana leaves

All done! Removing the hot leaves and steamed bananas (yum!)

Mackerel and coconut cream in coconut shells... delicious!

Removing the food - note the tongs (scroll down for picture)

A cooked turkey, and lamb shanks, and taro, and cooked green bananas
Doesn't it look amazing? The green are mango leaves added to enhance flavor.


With one of the cooks (Junior? - can't remember his name)... He was very drunk by 11am... Umu and beer go hand in hand.
Samoan tongs

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