I am an Australian working in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in Bible translation and linguistics. Before I moved here I worked on traditional sailing ships doing sail training, and shared life with friends through our variation on intentional Christian community living.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any of the organisations mentioned.
Sunday, 28 September 2014
The canoe making I described last time was happening
alongside sago making.
Sago is a staple of the Gulf Province diet. It is produced
from the pith in the core of a mature sago palm. This is a process that takes a
lot of hard work, but which results in a starchy food which tastes good when
cooked with coconut and served with fresh fish.
To make sago, first let your sago palm mature. They are
ready to cut down when a tall flower starts to sprout from the middle, unlike
any of the ones in this picture.
In cutting down your sago palm beware the very sharp spines
along every branch. Once the palm has been reduced to a log, float it along the
river to your village and cut it into manageable pieces with an axe. The leaves
can be used in roofing and for other purposes.
Split the log open and chip the pulp into small pieces.
Once all the pith is pulped, put it in a bag and transfer it
to the beating station.
Put some pulp into the top of an inverted palm leaf and soak
it with water.
Beat the watery pulp for all you are worth, forcing the
starch to separate into the water from the pulp.
The pulp is strained from the watery starch through a sieve.
The edible sago then settles out of the water into a big
The pigs will happily eat the pulp which the humans discard.
I have come to very much enjoy sago when it is cooked with
coconut, which was common in Gulf. The place where we took these photos,
Maipenairu, is a Koriki village. In this language the word for sago is ‘pu’. As
much as I like the flavour, the thought of eating pu for dinner is a bit harder
to cope with!