Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Culture Day started out with our host sister hesitantly beating a chicken with a stick. I think the goal was to kill two chickens, but after much squawking (from the chicken and the sister) the second chicken was left alive, sort of.
The idea of culture day is for the trainees to get a tasted of a typical/traditional Sāmoan day. I hesitate between typical and traditional because of that chicken beating. I got the impression that it isn’t typical for our family to kill a chicken for dinner. They get their chicken frozen from the store. So I imagine the chicken beating is more traditional.
We were divided by gender. The guys went off into the forest to gather firewood, coconuts and taro. The ladies prepared koko esi, which is a soup made from papaya, tapioca, coconut cream and cocoa Sāmoa. We learned how to husk, crack and scrape coconuts. The guys peeled taro and prepared the umu, which it basically a pile of hot rocks that the food is placed on and then covered in leaves and left to cook.
Masi and Mataio were the braves one of the group — or the twisted ones, depending on how you look at it. They killed the pig. Pigs in Sāmoa have a slow death because they do not spill the animal’s blood when killing it. This pig was suffocated to death. A stick was placed over its neck and Masi and Mataio stood on the stick until the pig was dead. It took about ten minutes. I didn’t get any pictures of that part because I didn’t want to watch. Once the pig was dead it was cleaned and de-furred. Its innards were outered and in their place hot rocks and leaves were stuffed to help with the cooking.
We also cooked two turkeys donated by HP. They came from American Sāmoa complete with the little plastic buttons that pop out to tell you when they are ready. The ladies cleaned and gutted the fish (I took pictures, but I didn’t do any fish gutting of my own) and the guys prepared palusami, which is made from coconut cream and young taro leaves.
In the end this meal was served in a traditional fashion to the matai of the village, the honored guests (trainers) and two trainees who were given the role of tulafale (orator or talking chief) and ali’i (high chief). Cale was the tulafale and Alo was the ali’i. I was a serving and fanning girl. After I served food to the matai, I sat in front of them and fanned the food while they ate.
Once the matai were finished eating the rest of the trainees were served in a back room and once we were done all of the people from the village who had helped us all morning ate.
Posted by Cale