Friday, 31 July 2009
Visiting Vanuatu is always an experience worth narrating. I start with kava.
Kava has a long history in Vanuatu, and its use can be radically different from island to island. For many of the islands, kava is considered a sexually charged drink, and women are forbidden from drinking it. Kava is consumed in various ways throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures.
Traditionally it is prepared by either, chewing, grinding or pounding the roots of the kava plant. The ground root/bark is combined with only a little water, as the fresh root releases moisture during grinding. Pounding is done in a large stone with a small log. The product is then added to cold water and consumed as quickly as possible.
The kava I consumed was ground by hand using a piece of coral and a kava board to catch the ground kava root. In Vanuatu kava is drank in a specific order and if there are any special guests present as was the case with me, they are given the honor of consuming the first shell of kava and I simply said, Tankyu, tumas.
I noted a couple of things as I consumed kava at a kava bar on a Friday afternoon after my busy day of meetings. First kava makes you salivate and no wonder everyone was spitting. At the same time, traditionally, kava owners may feel offended if you do not spit because it might mean their kava is not as strong. So, Skiusmi (Excuse me) there I was spitting!
Having drunk the kava I found an interesting story on the net.
Traditional Vanuatu Kava Recipe
• Gather kava roots from field.
• Return back to the village with whole kava root bundle.
• Use machete to cut into more manageable pieces.
• Give the virgins of the village the kava for them to chew up and spit out.
This is a process called mastication. This is done because there are no machines or grinders. Also the virgins are the only ones with teeth due to lack of proper dental hygiene.
• The piles of masticated kava are then soaked in coconut or rain water for a period inside of a Tanoa.
• Strain the mixture through coco fibers into a coconut shell.
• Drink warm.
Having drunk the kava and experienced what people who drink kava experience, I was not sure whether I was drunk, or the opposite, but certainly I felt funny, so did my TV in the room. That was my Gudnaet! This was not my first time to drink kava, but certainly compared to the Fiji kava, this was the most potent and effective. I wonder who chewed and spat the kava before this preparation! I certainly prefer Vanuatu Tusker!
But hey, morning later, I gud nomo! That is Vanuatu kava for you