30 June 2012

Highlights of this year's city-wide feast

Asa and I sit, ready for the feast
That is, if you're Wesleyan. The end of June always brings a huge influx in visitors to Tonga; Tongans come back from all sorts of places overseas as well as into the capital from the other islands, and all congregate on a huge field in front of the Wesleyan offices - and eat, meet, and eat some more.

We've always enjoyed going, especially to friends' tables. It's a hugely festive air, and we're lucky to know people who are excellent cooks. This year brings a special treat in that we're able to introduce Asa to the delicacies and sights that normally no visitor to Tonga at any other time has a chance to see:

A town from Vava'u has a nickname of ta pa'one'one - which literally means to play or beat a large can (of corned beef) because the joke apparently is that the first time corned beef came to Tonga, a man was so happy to eat it that he went around the town, making noise on the can.  Each person in the town's delegation presented a huge can at the conference.

We liked one participant's kiekie, or women's formal belt. This one was creatively made out of hair extensions.
Delicious food always abounds; and after you're done eating at the table, each host brings around a tray of dessert. We had cheesecake and ice cream at one friend's feast, and pavlova with cream and fruit at another's.

A friend's daughter sits down for a well-deserved bite. After the first round of people eat, a second crowd fills the tables to eat what remains - these are often the people who helped cook the food. The food is of such quantity that the second round often has untouched dishes to eat when they sit down.

Asa enjoyed the tradition of bringing food back from the feast. Almost everyone brings a little back to share with their neighbors and enjoy the next day. Just in Asa's bag is a lobster, a large slice of roasted pork, oranges, prawns, octopus in coconut cream, meatballs, and fluffy 'ufi (yam). We shared a portion and we're still enjoying the rest!

The crowds are so huge that the police stand at the roadside, keeping order and directing traffic when needed.

Traffic jams are getting more common in Tonga, but none more so than that at the conference feasts. The line stretched for quite a ways past the feast grounds.

Animals like conference time too. Our cat quite enjoyed the piece of pig hoof we gave him to chew on.

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