Te bua toro ni baukin, canned meat with pumpkin and cabbage, will be my recipe today as we are headed to the Kiribati Islands.
The Kiribati Archipelago is a group of Pacific islands that occupies part of this oceanic region called Micronesia.
A group from Micronesia inhabited this small area for the first time about 5,000 years ago. Traveling to Kiribati means visiting one of the smallest and most remote countries on the planet. The Kiribati Islands are located about halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the tropical Pacific. The archipelago gained its independence from the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. The volcanic island of Banaba and about thirty coral atolls make up just about 313 square miles and are the residence of 100,000 inhabitants.
What is te bua toro ni baukin?
One of the most popular dishes in the Kiribati Islands is te bua toro ni baukin, in Gilbertese, a Pacific language spoken in Kiribati but also in Fiji, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Solomon but also in Hawaii and in New Zealand.
Te bua toro ni baukin, which means “vegetable and meat cake”, is a kind of savory cake made from pumpkin, cabbage and canned meat.
Cuisine of Kiribati
Fish and seafood are the main source of food throughout the archipelago. Coconut, taro, breadfruit, pandanus, pumpkin, papaya and banana are widely grown here.
Imported foods such as rice, flour and sugar are often added to these products.
The national drink is called toddy, a sweet and nutritious drink made from coconut sap. This sap is drawn from the coconut palm flowers held together in a structure called spathe on which the coconuts grow and ripen. From this sap, people also make kamwaimwai, which consists in sap that is cooked over low heat and that turns into thick molasses. Kamwaimwai, which can replace sugar, is used in many recipes.
The important Kiribati dishes include:
– Teia: noodles with coconut cream, onions and lime.
– Waro: shrimp and rice with coconut.
Worms are also celebrated in the cuisine of Kiribati. Indeed, coconut roasted worms are a popular island dish as well as smoked or sun-dried worms that are often used as a snack.
– Shrimp and lobster are present on all the tables.
– Char fish, roasted or barbecued, which is a fish that looks like trout and is accompanied by freshly grated coconut rice.
– Raw fish marinated in a curry and coconut sauce usually uses tuna or flying fish.
– Bonefish burger, chopped and fried fish.
– Snapper, cooked with coconut or simply grilled, accompanied by te baan ni mai, pieces of fried breadfruit.
It is clear that the variety of food in Kiribati is limited, although it is continually improving as the number of delivery vessels increases. Although Western-style products are still limited, commodities are still generally available. The lack of fruits and vegetables is the main concern. Meat is also sorely lacking in the islands.
What is the origin of SPAM?
SPAM, canned meat, has become a very popular ingredient (just like in Hawaii), because of the lack of fresh meat at a reasonable price. The name SPAM comes from “spiced pork and ham”, so it is made of pork and ham. It is an American brand registered by the company Hormel Foods in 1937. SPAM is a cult product shipped a million times every day around the world!
Yes, even if we tend to forget it, SPAM (in capital letters) is not just an undesired e-mail called spam (lowercase). It is above all a registered trademark of canned meat.
How did we associate junk mail to canned meat There was obviously an intermediate step!
The association dates back to a sketch of Monty Python, a group of British comedians active from 1969 to 1983. The sketch takes place in an inn, where a group of Vikings is staying. At a table, two people want to order dishes without SPAM but it’s impossible. All the dishes listed by the waitress contain SPAM and it is indeed the basis of each dish of the menu. The word SPAM is repeated until exhaustion at all tables and everyone sings a little song that repeats the dubious virtues of SPAM: SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM! Egg and SPAM! Egg bacon and SPAM! Bacon sausage and SPAM! Bacon tomato and SPAM!
The conversations at all the tables end up being covered by the incessant hubbub of this group of Vikings tirelessly screaming SPAM SPAM SPAM and it is from there that was born this idea of incessant repetitions interrupting a conversation: spam!
The first real spam message in history, however, dates back to May 3, 1978, when Gary Thuerk, an employee of the American Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), sent the same message of a new product to all ArpaNet users (about 600 people), the ancestor of the Internet, on the west coast of the United States.
Back to Kiribati, these islands that answer to our most exotic fantasies, like a tropical place where to spend the winter in the heat and dive into crystal clear waters. Do you know that this archipelago is the first place in the world to see the dawn of a new day, and thus a new year? This is indeed the first place in the world where people wish happy new year and why not, while enjoying a good te bua toro ni baukin! Have a nice trip !
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons powdered milk
- 1½ lb grated pumpkin (about 1 medium pumpkin)
- 1½ lb shredded cabbage (about 1 medium cabbage)
- 1 lemon
- ½ lb tin meat (SPAM) , or ½ lb corned beef
Peel pumpkin and grate flesh into a dish, or if the pumpkin is large, cut the top and carve the inside. Drain excess water from grated pumpkin.
Shred cabbage and add to grated pumpkin.
Add flour, tinned meat (or diced corned beef), powdered milk (or soy milk), cabbage and baking powder to the pumpkin. Mix all together. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Put mixture into a baking dish that was greased with butter or oil.
Cook in 350 F oven until brown, about 45 to 50 minutes.