Saturday, June 30, 2012

How we say goodbye

In PNG when the time comes to say goodbye to a good friend it is often done with a show of food.  The traditional way that food is cooked is in a mumu pit.  What is a mumu pit?  A mumu pit is shallow hole dug in the ground where they layer fire wood and then pile it with large stones.  A fire is lit and the stones are brought to a “cooking” temperature.  When the fire wood has burned down and the stones are nice and hot, a layer of green banana leaves is laid down and then the food is piled on.  They start with kaukau (sweet potaotos), taro, cooking bananas, and pumpkin, then add the meat.  For our mumu we had chicken pieces, lamb flaps (fatty rib sections of lamb), some other piece of lamb I was told was a chop (but I know it wasn’t what I know as a chop…) and red sausages that you find everywhere in PNG.  Then you pile on the kumu (greens).  Once your food is all piled up then you pour water over it and traditionally you cover it with more banana leaves and let the food steam.  With the meat in the middle all the oils and fats from the meat drip down onto the food below giving the sweet potato a nice flavor.  Instead of banana leaves my guys found some plastic to cover the pile with so they used that instead of banana leaves which works just as well.

So who were we saying goodbye to?  Well you are probably thinking Susan and myself, but actually we had two long-time employees who are leaving from the department where I work.  One of them has been working at the bookkeeper for 31 years and the other was our electrician who has been here 7 years.  The bookkeeper is retiring and will be moving back to his home area in the Sepik and our electrician is going back to school to get training to become an apprentice teacher.  Both of them have been big assets to our department and will be truly missed.

Goodbyes are always hard, but PNG is such a small place that it is common to run into one another again.  So I am sure we will see each other again somewhere along the line.

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