It’s always a good idea to get a refresher course in your own culinary heritage now and then because you just never know what small breakthroughs you might experience.
This is why this Dear Tourist reporter stood shoulder to shoulder with actual tourists during a umu demonstration at the Samoan Cultural Village, taking in new - yet old information, on the construction of an umu and its historical value.
After our collective minds were blown at the simple brilliance of the humble umu, Dear Tourist meets travel friends Bar, Tamar and Tomer all the way from Israel who were thoroughly enjoying the cultural village experience.
While they were very far from their home, the three friends have been working in New Zealand and needed a break from the cold weather.
“We just came from New Zealand after a few months working and we decided we needed a break so we came for a week just to rest. We just heard from friends that it was a really nice place and its less crowded and touristy than Fiji which is a popular place,” Bar said, “so we decided to come to Samoa instead of Fiji because its less commercialised here.“
Tamar wanted to tag a long with her friends and decided to come to Samoa and she told us that she was amazed by the landscape.
“It’s great and it’s warm. It’s really, really beautiful. There is unique nature here and you don’t see it anywhere else I think - well I haven’t seen it anywhere else. It’s just so tropical.”
All three friends agreed that what stood out for them quite clearly during their time here in Samoa was how strong the culture was in our everyday lives in this age of modernity.
“It’s very special that you see that this culture is still alive where ever you go.” said Tamar, “here you can still see people putting out coconut to dry in the sun.”
Bar agreed saying, “What I like about Samoa is that what we see here at the Samoa Culture centre is the same if you drive out a little bit, you can see actual village life and that its still going. Its still authentic. And the people are really, really nice and we feel very safe and we are not afraid.”
Tomer was very interested in the similarities between Maori and Samoan people and for him it was fascinating to learn that main difference between the Maori hangi and Samoan umu were environmental but essentially the same concept.
“Samoa is very special for me,” he said, “it reminds me a bit of the Maori culture in New Zealand, I don’t know too much about the Maori Culture but the tour today at the Samoan culture village has taught me a lot.
“We are going back to New Zealand and its not that I hate New Zealand - New Zealand is nice but it’s very European and here its not European, its very warm and welcoming. It’s very special place. It’s a nice break from that to be here.”