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Farm To Table, Fijian Style

Farm to Table, Fijian Style

Farm to Table, Fijian StyleOne of the most unique adventures on our recent trip to Fiji was our Food Safari at the Nanuku Auberge Resort. Let me start by saying, I am not a foodie. I am actually not even an adventurous eater. I save that for my husband and apparently now also my son. What I do love is to get out of the confines of resort life to actually experience the places we visit. With less than cooperative weather during our stay at Nanuku, our options for outside exploration were somewhat limited. Dying to get out to explore, we opted to experience Nanuku’s Food Safari excursion.

Farm to Table, Fijian StyleAll we knew in advance was that we were to be taken around to the local villages to procure all of the products we would need for a traditionally cooked Fijian meal. This is Fiji’s way of doing what many in the West are currently obsessed with, farm-to-table cooking and eating.  Here in California, farm-to-table chefs prepare meals with an emphasis on seasonality, local availably and simple preparations. So in essence this was what we were being exposed to in Fiji, however, it isn’t a new trendy way of doing things, rather the traditional way of eating that is still quite prevalent as most villages rely on what they have immediately available in their direct vicinity. Home cooked food in Fiji is typically prepared with extremely fresh, barely modified ingredients, often prepared feet from where it was grown. Farm-to-table, Fijian style!

Farm to Table, Fijian Style

Kava Root

On our adventure, we would be taken to a local market to pick up some fresh ingredients before heading to another two villages to collect fresh crab and prawns. Our market visit was quick and uneventful. It left me wondering if I’m over traveled. Have I seen too many to be impressed? Did living in India spoil me to the abundance of local markets? For people who have had little exposure to local markets they might find it interesting (go on a Sat, the busiest day), otherwise it’s just a quick walk through with basic local fruits and root vegetables brought down from the mountains.

Farm to Table, Fijian Style - Crab FarmFollowing our market visit and walk around the village, we were taken to a local crab farm, called the Crab Company. This 11 pond farm provides fresh crab to many of the hotels on this side of the island. I’d never seen a crab farm before so wasn’t sure what to expect. It was very similar to any fish farm to be honest, but my 5 year old was entranced. He loved walking the tiny walkways pulling up the traps to see what was inside. Most of the crabs we found were still too small for market sale, but in the end we came out with 3 crabs for purchase. Our son was very interested in seeing them wrapped up in newspaper before bagged and handed over for him to take care of!

[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]I kept waiting for my animal loving son to balk at the idea that we were picking out live animals to be eaten later that day. It just never was an issue for him. He seems to have such a clear grasp on the cycle of life and nature that I find myself inspired by his outlook![/box]

Farm to Table, Fijian StyleOur next stop was to another nearby local village that had a stream running behind. We were told that when a village has access to a natural resource such as this, it is free range for anyone in the village. I found myself wondering how that would really play out in the US where competition is so high.

Farm to Table, Fijian StyleDuring our visit, a local villager jumped in the creek and began pulling out fresh prawns for us. My son really wanted to get in there himself to help, but it was a bit cold for him (and we had no change of clothes with us!). While waiting for our bag of prawns, we spent some time hiking around in the jungle area exploring. We almost got chased by a cow who was not at all happy about our invasion of her land!

Farm to Table, Fijian Style - Fresh water prawnsOur gathering phase finished, we returned to the hotel to begin the meal preparation. A fire was quickly started by the hotel staff to cook our prawns in a traditional Fijian style. Two small green bamboos stalks were cut which we learned would be used to cook our prawns. In the meantime, ginger, garlic, coriander and onion were chopped and stuffed inside the tubes as well. With only a squeeze of lime, the still alive and kicking prawns were stuffed inside the bamboo to steam to their death! Eek! Even though I do eat fish, I’m definitely not one to catch and kill my own food! My 5 year old seemed to have no qualms about this though!

Farm to Table, Fijian Style -

Prawns getting stuffed in bamboo for cooking

The stuffed bamboo shoots were set in the roaring fire for about 15 minutes before being taken out and sliced  open. The prawns were now bright red, telling us they were cooked!

Farm to Table, Fijian Style

See our bamboo sticking out with the green on top?

Farm to Table, Fijian Style

Farm to Table, Fijian Style

Farm to Table, Fijian StyleI’ve never eaten a prawn with the shell on and neither has my son. As I learned during this adventure, it was just one more thing to try. He was not phased by it, and rather actually loved it! He loves fresh food and it showed again here.

Being able to share in such a special tradition with the staff of the hotel was a great experience. I know they do this as a service to guests, but it felt very personal since several of the employees came from each of the villages we had visited. This is something that permeated our time in Fiji, the feeling of everything being local. It really does feel like a close knit country in so many ways.

Farm to Table, Fijian StyleNext up was our crab dinner. My son would have enjoyed watching the chef shell and cook the crab but that was all done behind the scenes unfortunately. Instead we headed off to the beach to search for hermit crabs to race! Arriving to dinner that evening, we were all excited to try our crabs that were hand picked. The preparation was beautiful and tasted amazing, but had a bit of an Asian flare which my son wasn’t super keen on. But overall he loved the experience and asked when we could catch our next meal!

If you find yourself in Fiji, you must book some time at the beautiful and amazing Nanuku Resort. It was one of the nicest places we have ever stayed and provided such a wonderful insight into the local culture past and present.

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Farm to table, Fijian style: A food adventure in Fiji.

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This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox , Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner and The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond.

This Post Has 38 Comments
  1. I loved reading this! We are big on eating local food, fresh food, and always showing and talking to the kids when we travel or even at home about where their food comes from. What a great experience for your son and you guys too 🙂 I am sold on nanuku Resort! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard

  2. I am not a sea food fan, as I am very allergic to it. However, I can see why some people love it. Eating local, fresh food is always good and exposing your children to it is also great. They will be more open to experience new foods as adults.

  3. Wow, what a great experience, one of my favourite things about travelling is eating the local food and visiting local markets, and even supermarkets. I love trying to recreate different flavours and adding then to my cooking too. It looks like you had a great time and what an experience for your son, i bet its something non of you will forget

    1. We used to live in India and eat only what was in season, but it’s so easy to loose touch with that back in the US. I do try to keep a better eye on what’s in season and what’s being imported, but you have to stay diligent!

  4. The seafood looks fantastic i must say. I have a steadfast rule while you are near the sea eat seafood its a must. It seemed like a quiet an adventure something my kids wouild like
    cheers
    mark

  5. I love how this adventure is called a food safari. I was expecting a visit to the market but not a visit to the villages to get the actual seafood. This is very interesting. This is what true food is all about.

    1. It was pretty cool actually. I’d never been too focused on farm to table, but seeing how much joy my son got out of seeing his food where it lived and then on his plate was cool. I really thought he would be freaked out, but he wasn’t!

  6. That’s quite a different style tour for Fiji and really appeals. We are very independent travellers and rarely do anything organised on our travels other than cooking classes but this sounds interesting and the meal looks really good too!

  7. Isn’t it funny how farm-to-table is so trendy in the U. S. right now, while it’s the norm elsewhere. It’s all the rage in our hometown of NYC also, at least it is a step into the right direction. I’m so glad your son is loving to learn how to eat what nature has to offer. Fiji looks like a great place for a budding food lover like him.

  8. mmm..yum… local fresh food can’t get any better. Prawns and crab love it, I have never seen prawns cooked in bamboo. Our son is much that same, understands the food chain, and has no problems eating freshly harvested food.

  9. This sounds like a fantastic experience – truly is farm to table in the most literal sense! I love the comparison you made between this being a trend in the US, though when you get to a country like Fiji, it’s literally how the locals live.

    I love that the streams throughout each village are free for all – definitely wouldn’t fly ina place like the US. But it’s far more of a community from the sounds of it – where-as Western countries like the US have lost this, and I feel are far less authentic than countries like Fiji because of it.

    Fab post, I’m glad you had such a memorable and authentic experience.

    1. Thanks for the message Meg. It really does bring home a sense of what we have lost in the US- the sense of community and caring for our neighbors. I’m usually so weary of tours from resorts, but this one turned out really fabulous!

  10. Wow – a Food Safari at the Nanuku Auberge Resort sounds fabulous! The crab farm sounds interesting and I can imagine it would be a hit with kids. So sweet that your son is keen to catch his next meal!

  11. Well this is genuinely what I call fresh! I had never thought about going to nature to pick up your meal, but it does not get any more real that this. fascinating experience!

  12. What an amazing education your son is getting firsthand by doing such a tour. Its great how kids just soak it up and process the information so differently to how we imagine they will sometimes. Fiji looks like a beautiful place to visit, sad that the weather didn’t cooperate during your trip but maybe if it had you wouldn’t have ventured out to this safari.

    1. Exactly! With great weather I’m sure we wouldn’t have done this, so maybe things turned out as they were meant to be! Our experiences at Nanuku were my son’s favorite and has really impacted him!

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