During my time at school I did an exchange project with a school in Poland, we visited their school for a week, like south Africa was moving. During my time there we learnt how they live life there, we learnt heavily about their religion and country and it’s history.
Visiting the homestead has blown that out the water, I’ve never been the history or religious type of person, but seeing stuff like this really interest’s me!
It was an honour to be welcomed into someone’s community, were they work, sleep, eat and so on, they explained to us how it works, how their every day life works, how they do there jobs. Listening to the story’s were been told, imagining the story in your head, imagining the picture of it happening.
To us it sounds a hard challenges doing that day In day out but to the Tongan it’s a walk in the park, they wouldn’t think twice about it been hard, you compare it to the English walk of life and think to yourself how different they are to us.
It was very interesting how fast the palm wine is prepared, as it only takes two-ish days! Palm wine also has very few ingredients, and in the words of Tommy “we had it from there as its pure, and doesn’t contain battery acid for a stronger kick.”
The peanut and butternut leaf dish was actually rather tasty, it had a dull colour of murky green. However don’t let it’s looks deceive you. The creamy dish was smooth on the tongue and excelled in its release of flavour. The texture was also slightly bitty but that made it have that edge that normal dishes in the soup department don’t have. I think the best face was shown by Katie as when she saw it, it was a questioning face that she displayed, however even she was pleasantly surprised.
Finally the monkey apple jam was rather bitter, this was mainly due to the fact that no sugar had yet been added to the jam.
The texture was rather bitty but that’s just because it’s the way it is, (maybe we could donate a sieve) overall it was a very pleasant experience and I wish I could see and taste the jam when it’s finished. Might just have to come back for it!
At the homestead I was pleased to see the traditional hut building along side the more modern house. It made the Novel ‘Things fall apart’ by Chinua Achebe come to life in the sense that I finally tasted palm wine in the man of the house’s hut which is mentioned endlessly in the book. The drink itself tasted very yeasty and a bit salty it also had quite a kick to it, I didn’t drink much. Coming from a school that is all about empowering women it was very different being considered a second class citizen where women were served a separate, smaller jar of the wine (not to mention being made to sit on the floor rather than the benches, the latter being for men) but both of these became blessings in disguise when the smaller jar was still a bit too much for us women and there were quite a few spiders in the low roof of the hut which were increasingly decending towards the boy’s heads. The women of the family then brought us a interesting looking concoction of butternut squash leaf with peanuts, despite its looks it was delicious.
This was followed with the women (again!) demonstrating how they make the palm wine. They tend to make it a day or two before they wish to drink it as it cannot be stored and continues to ferment until it is served. Given the warm climate (to us at least! The locals were walking around in jumpers and coats) it ferments very quickly and is what gives it such a kick.
Continuing to follow the process backwards we went to look at the palm they were currently harvesting. Given the plant grows to around 2m in height to harvest it has to be cut back to less than a metre high.
Very little sap was extracted at a time and the stem of the plant had to be cut at regular intervals throughout the day.
Overall I enjoyed the cultural experience.