“When we go camping in the other motus,” said our friend Tevahine, “all we take is flour and a cooking pot. Everything else is there: coconuts, crabs, fish.” This was her short way of explaining the delightfully simple meal she was now preparing with us.
We fetched brown coconuts from the ground around her property, which in contrast with the green coconuts, have already fallen from the tree. The brown coconuts are the ones used for ‘copra’, which is coconut meat dried for body products. I grated the coconut meat, and Sabrina pressed the grated meat through a cloth to extract fresh, delicious coconut milk.
Tevahine then took a long pole with a hook on the end and pulled green coconuts that hung from the tree. She hacked off the tops and poured out the coconut water. Note, the commonly misunderstood distinction between coconut “water”, and the aforementioned coconut “milk”.
Tevahine then had us mix the coconut water with flour into a dough. Once she deemed the dough mixture ready, Sabrina spooned out small chunks of dough into a pot of boiling water, and cooked the dough morsels into sweet doughy nuggets until they floated to the surface indicating they were done.
After draining, Tevahine poured the freshly pressed coconut milk over the yummy morsels. It was just like sweet gnocchi!
Tevahine also made “poisson cru”. This is the local favorite dish made of raw fish. She whisked up a tasty vinaigrette to marinate the dish. We carried our picnic down to the beach to cool off while we ate.
Once at the beach we found a plastic table, then placed the table in the water (which floated!) and adorned it with Tevahine’s sarong. It was our first floating lunch ever!
The contrast between the savory poisson cru and the sweet coconut gnocchi was absolutely delightful. Eating while standing in chest deep calm turquoise waters seemed to add to our taste bud satisfaction. Our plates rested on the plastic table which bobbed gently in the water. This was an incredibly simple and tasty lunch made almost entirely from things the Tuamotans harvest around their houses – in a most unique setting!