Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sago Making

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.

(Photo C.Rivard)

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.
(Photo R.Drew)

The edible sago then settles out of the water into a big brick.

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!

(Photo: S.Pederson)

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