Monday, December 24, 2007

The Mumu

It all began when we brought 4 live chickens and some lamb chops over to our friends, Wayne and Fina and family. We came back the next day and were greeted by this—-the mumu. This is not the same as some cows bawling (or is that baying, or neither?), rather, and especially in the highlands of PNG, this is a traditional way of cooking. Here’s how it works: first, you get a hot fire going which heats the stones under it; once the stones are near red with heat you cover them with banana leaves and lay on the food. The food is PNG cuisine: sweet potato, cooking bananas, cabbage, chicken, lamb chops, leafy greens called kumu. All of this uncooked food is covered again with banana leaves. Like a big green present! It is then that some 10 gallons of water are poured over the leaves. And then the steam. The steam is so strong that leaves begin to lift so you then have to cover these leaves usually with stones, but with modernization and all, a tarpaulin and an iron mesh will do. Those are modern additions to this ancient procedure! The steam cooks the food to tender-perfection and some 3 hours later, we eat…and eat…and eat!

Warning: we don’t recommend you try this at home, we would hate for you to become part of the mumu—-talk about bawling.

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