Pacific Island Feasts

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About
The sonorous echoes of a blown conch or the penetrating pounding of a wooden slit drum (the latter in Melanesia) cut into the evening air, alerting the participants and guests to the start of the festivities. With an air of subdued excitement and anticipation, clusters of people converge toward the feast site, drawn by lights hanging from the trees leading to a grassy clearing amid coconut palms by the sea. As the sun slips beneath the water on the horizon, a trio of musicians, heads crowned with wreaths of green ferns, softly beat on drums and pluck the strings of coconut ukuleles. All day long men and women have been moving to and fro, carrying bundles of food, baskets of fruit, sucking pigs slung by their feet from bamboo poles. Much laughter has been heard, with the staccato of chopping and the thud of pestles meeting mortars.