“All these were, years ago, little red-coloured, pulpy infants, capable of being kneaded, baked, into any social form you chose” —Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish philosopher, satirical writer and essayist
RESENT ME IF YOU WILL but I have a tirade against the pretenders amongst us who believe that a dance and a few feathers doth a culture make.
Ours is a root, fruit and vegetable eating culture, with the odd bit of meat to help things along. But things have changed. Asia has a rice culture; now we have a rice culture.
The high schools in Wau and Baiyune, and probably many others throughout Papua New Guinea, have a strange method of showing support for local farmers by rarely purchasing kaukau, taro, bananas or yams.
I, as a farmer in Wau, have supplied root crops and bananas only several times in the last two years. They know me as I give store credit from time to time, and was a school Board member.
I offered Grace Memorial High seniors field trips to the farm. Result - lip service with no action for the past three years.
But two boys I placed at Baiyune and their mates were very happy that I gave them kaukau and cassava because they were on a 100% rice diet.
Our children and our graduates have been raised to disdain PNG’s food culture; to give up on this basic part of our national culture.
Boarding school administrators should hang their heads in shame; students too for their historical propensity to throw kaukau against the wall. Administrators demonstrate a weak attitude to innovative ways of making our staple crops more attractive.
In Britain when I was a boy, we had our culture and out staples. My mother peeled potatoes, bought locally, all her life; rice was a sweet pudding.
My argument for PNG is that more emphasis should be given to our staples; they should be more accessible. The main markets should be for distribution and mini markets should be located within walking distance every home.
This would enable housewives to easily transport heavy root crops and lessen reliance on another culture’s staple. It would also take pressure off the PMV’s loaded with heavily laden housewives homeward bound; ultimately too tired to do more than throw a kilo of rice in the pot.
Open a kona mit and, behold, there is your average diet, it’s not going to raise bright eyed well-nourished children and successful hubbies. People did better in the villages.
From my exposure to TV cooking shows, I am led to believe that chefs are also purchasing agents. Are chefs in PNG taught to maximise their use of customary crops? This would help increase acceptance of basic customary food.
I am a white man brought up on potatoes; I prefer taro any day; my ardent wish is to perfect a taro and meat pie which will sweep the country.
There is apparently no policy in high school to recommend the minimum amount of traditional food that the students are to be fed; equally there is no in-service training for the labourers whose grass knives happen to have been exchanged for ladles as they become the schools’ (untrained) chefs.
High schools habitually follow custom by pursuing the use of the most primitive method of cooking known to man; the infamous three stone fire.
Inmates, pickled in smoke, are not very amenable to any culinary encouragement that may be provided by untrained supervising teachers. They are usually left to their own devices; close supervision is too stressful.
There are designs for smokeless clay brick stoves. However our leaders in education have not seen fit to include in vocational curriculums methods to use our super abundant clay for making clay bricks.
There would be few countries in the world with our neglect of the use of our substantial deposits of clay.