One could easily find Samoa on a map, just based on a list of their favorite foods:
OKA I'A (Raw Fish in Coconut Cream)If I were not a vegetarian, I would have to try the chargrilled wild flying foxes. Never seen a flying fox, let alone ate one.
Taisi Moa (Chicken Baked in Banana Leaves)
Faiai Fee (Octopus in Coconut Cream)
Faiai Eleni (Herrings in Coconut Cream)
Lupe Tunuvilivili (Wild Pigeon Grilled on open Spit)
Pea Tunuvilivili (Chargrilled Wild Flying Foxes)
Puaa Tunuvilivili (Pig Grilled on Open Spit)
In researching Samoan cooking, I came across Ethnic Foods of Hawaii by Ann Kondo Corum, which includes a chapter on the cuisine that immigrants from American Samoa brought to Hawaii in the early 1900s.
Corum wrote that the people of Samoa adore a good pig, and, in cooking one, divvy its parts up to people based on rank. The head chief gets the heart. The talking chief gets the liver, cooked in a banana leaf. The cooks get seasoned blood (also the intestines). The commoners get things like neck bones and the rump.
As a cook, I should have gotten the seasoned blood and pig intestines.
Instead, I made coconut-banana dip.
This is a deceptively simple and drop-dead delicious dish. I ate it with some toasted crostini. It's about a billion times more delcious than hummus, which is saying something.
Fa'alifu Fa'I: Coconut-Banana Dip
Adapted from a recipe by Sandy McDonald, Magele Mose, Faataualofa Magele, and Karen Suaava McDonald
Makes about 1 cup of dip
1 green banana
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 medium onion, chopped into long pieces
Salt, to taste
In a medium saucepan,
Place the banana (peeled) in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the banana is soft but not falling apart. Drain the water. Add the coconut milk and onion, and bring to a boil again, then lower the heat. Mash up the banana with a fork while you simmer the mixture over medium heat. When it has reached a thick, dip-like consistency, remove from heat, sprinkle with salt, and serve.