Saturday, 15 September 2012
For a boy that says he’s not that keen on coconut, Ryan sure does choose a lot of tropical countries – I’m not quite sure he’s made the link yet…
French Polynesia consists of a large grouping of islands, the most well known being containing Tahiti, Bora Bora and the Marquesas Islands, rather than doing them all as separate countries – they do have a combined flag (above), I researched and the cuisine seems to be pretty similar throughout the region with the same recipes popping up for these different islands.
Coconut milk or cream features in pretty much each course this week. And dessert is pretty much all banana with just a little something to hold it together.
The weekend started with making the shopping list from the meals we’d chosen, quite a short list actually, we’re obviously well stocked on tropical type ingredients, although unfortunately I did have to go and buy a bottle of rum as we were all out – and the entree called it, must be the French influence in that one!
Like Madagascar, Tahiti is known for it’s quality vanilla, we couldn’t find any specifically Tahitian vanilla in the shops but we still had some Madagascan vanilla and beggars can’t be choosers.
Crevettes à la Vanille et Coco ( Shrimps in Vanilla Coconut)
served on rice
Now, Sam professes to liking shrimps, and when we were shopping Ryan was keen to get them from the fishery area. But when it comes down to it… they like the idea of the weird looking shrimps, they are however, as it turns out – not to keen on the texture. This one was very tasty and simple to make. A vanilla pod and rum reduction, which coconut milk and cream is added to then thicken, brown some shrimps and add them to the mixture and serve on rice.
I thought the fancy presentation might have coaxed Ryan into trying one, but he just was not even interested in trying a single shrimp. Sam on the other hand did have a few, but after that they both just finished the rice, with my wife, mother-in-law and myself, relieving the boys of their shrimps, as Ryan wouldn’t touch the rice until all the shrimps had been removed… There was however a bright side to this entree – we did find something new that Ryan loves! The recipe I had said it could be served with sautéed spinach (some varieties of taro are known as polynesian spinach, but I just couldn’t source any taro leaves for tonight), but since the main dish was heavy on the spinach I just garnished this one with a couple of spinach leaves.
Ryan: Is this a real leaf?
Ryan: Can we eat this?
Me: Yes, Ryan
Ryan: Is it real?
Me: Yes you can eat it Ryan…
Ryan: (pause, small taste – then all in, and the other one) I love it – can I have more?!
Me: Sure Ry, I’ll give you a whole lot more for the main course…
So there is a breakthrough, we used to have to keep on the boys to eat their lettuce salads, but now this summer we’ll be making them spinach salads! Yay! A new food for Ryan and Sam!
Ryan’s Rating: 4/4
Moa Fafa ( literally Chicken Taro)
served on rice
Tahitian Coconut Bread (might be called Pani popo same as Samoan)
The kids liked the name of this one – when I told them we were eating Moa tonight! Moa is the tahitian, samoan, hawaiian and tongan (I believe) name for chicken, over here in New Zealand, I don’t know what happened, either the Maori didn’t bring any chickens across with them when they landed in Aotearoa (New Zealand), or they were having a little joke at our expense, because we have (a now extinct) giant bird called a Moa – maybe it just tasted like chicken to the Maori, as it was hunted to extinction as a food source.
Anyway, the kids liked the thought of eating Moa.
The leafy plate decorations is solely because Ryan liked the spinach soo much that he said he wanted “lots and lots”! And believe me he did!
While Ryan was keen on the raw spinach the cooked spinach in the Moa Fafa he was not so keen on, but the chicken and uncooked spinach all disappeared as did the coconut bread. But, and here’s a new one, this was the first bread that Sam was not at all keen on. So the main meal was pretty successful, with everyone clearing their plates, albeit the boys leaving the cooked spinach on theirs – but they ate the rest. Mmhhmm Moa was good, I can see why it went extinct! 😉
Ryan’s Rating: Infinity/Infinity
Ryan’s Rating: Infinity/Infinity
Po’e (A gluten free Banana almost baked custard type dish)
served with coconut cream topping
This dessert is all about the banana, 8 bananas in all, pureéd up and mixed with brown sugar, corn starch (corn flour) and vanilla, then cooked until it has dried out a bit and then cooled and put in the fridge. Served cold with coconut milk or cream on top. This is a pretty fancy dessert by island standard, and I can tell you i loved it, the texture was a little like a solid custard, and the dessert tasted a lot like the filling to an old candy bar we have in New Zealand called “Perky nana” (‘nana being short for banana – not your grandmother!) So I’d have to say that chocolate bar got the banana taste spot on -‘cos as far as I know there’s no banana in the bar at all!
It was different, but I liked it, the boys tentatively had a few bites, Ryan liked his, Sam was not so keen, so I’ve got dessert lined up for the rest of the week, and a reasonably healthy dessert at that!
Ryan’s Rating: 10/10
So all in all a good pretty successful dinner, and we’ll be planting some spinach in the garden this season… Ryan’s volunteered to help with that.
My mother-in-law enjoyed her first international dinner, so looks like she may be making the trip upcountry for a few more!
Next up our special guest country chooser!