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Culinary Experiences On Aitutaki


Star Fruits on Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Our enthusiasm for this paradise was a bit dampened when we first set foot in the main store of the village. Except onions and potatoes, there was not fresh food whatsoever: everything is canned, packaged or deep frozen. The shop assistant recommended us another place, where we did find tomatoes and spring onions, but at the check out the kind lady luckily gave us a warning before we paid. Since those precious vegetables are flown in from New Zealand, they are very, very expensive: the tomatoes were 9 Euros per kilograms for instance! So we put most of the veggies back and limited ourselves to four tiny tomatoes and slowly started worrying about what we were going to eat the next seven days.

Rumors said that the following day, the monthly boat bringing stuff from Rarotonga and New Zealand would arrive, with only three weeks delay by the way, and it sure did. We witnessed the emptying of the container right in front of the shop. The newly arrived merchandise was proudly advertised and listed on a board “Just arrived”, but sadly it was mainly clothes and toys. Scouting the store without much success, we ran into a German couple that knew of an Austrian lady who grew lots of goodies in her garden, all organic and fresh.

Immediately we jumped on our scooter and hurried over to Tauono’s Garden and went on a shopping spree: star fruits, passion fruits, cherimoyas, papayas, pineapples, cherry tomatoes, lemon basil, garlic onions, mint, spinach, bread made of taro and coconut cake was carried off in our little scooter! Sonja, the owner, also advised us how to turn these into tasty dishes and we left with a promise to return soon.

And what we experienced was indeed unique! For instance the salad made of spinach, garlic onion, mustard leaves, lemon basil, star fruits and passion fruits with a little lemon and olive oil was a culinary highlight! The fruits as well are so different from what we experience in Europe that we had to return the next morning to Tauono’s Garden and buy another load of vegetables and fruits, filling our small refrigerator to maximum capacity.

After spending a month on islands in the Pacific, we could not avoid coming to the conclusion that a large number of people are overweight, many of them obese. Being such a touchy subject, we never dared to ask anybody, but Sonja, the expert on healthy food, brought up the issue herself. Well, she claims it is a diet of corned beef, taro and coconut that is responsible. We figured that with all this fish, chicken and fruits available on these islands, the eating habits might be different.

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