Samoan Food & Cuisine
Samoan food is not heavily spiced, and is characterized by the use of coconut milk and cream. Staple foods are taro, breadfruit, bananas, coconut, fish and shellfish, chicken and pork. Samoan Umu, a traditional above the ground stone oven heated by glowing hot lava rocks is used to cook food. The food can be placed directly on the rocks, wrapped in banana leaves or plaited in coconut fronds for cooking. Umus are usually used on Sundays as a special treat or in the event of large functions and other special celebrations.
Those who wake up early on Sunday mornings have the opportunity to experience the smoke of thousands of umu ovens virtually shrouds the island of Upolu like a blanket. Food plays a very important role in the Samoan culture and life. Almost all the important cultural events center around meals and feasts.
A Fia Fia is an event (at Aggie Grey’s Hotel every Wednesday night) that you must experience when you vacation in Samoa. During the event, fire dancers, other dancers, songs and traditional food all come together to create a remarkable and memorable evening. Breadfruit, chicken, fish, fresh fruits, pork and taro are traditional foods, with kava being the traditional drink. Kava is served during special events only. The umu or earth oven is the traditional mode of cooking.
Samoa offers a lot of options for eating and drinking.
Samoa is home to people from many countries. Germans, Italians, Chinese, Japanese and other Europeans have settled here and this diversity is reflected in the restaurants.
Apia is the only city on the island and it offers the widest range of dining options. From international cuisine to McDonald’s, Apia’s restaurants have them all. Most of Samoa’s bars and clubs are also located in Apia.
Visitors are advised to be careful about drinking water; it is best to drink only bottled or boiled water.
The traditional drink of Samoa is kava. Other than that, the bars have large stocks of liquor. Bars can be found in almost all hotels and restaurants.
Vailima Beer is considered to be one of the best beers in the Pacific region, Vailima Beer is brewed in Samoa. Even beer connoisseurs like the Germans call it an excellent beer, although that could be because a German established the brewery! Vailima beer is inexpensive and easily available.
Oh, by the way, we have a new local beer called “Taula” which is also excellent… Try it!
Business hours in Samoa are generally Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 16:30. Lunch is from 12:00 to 13:00, and some shops and businesses may be closed for lunch. Saturday business hours are from 08:00 to 13:00. There is no Sunday trading, so buy what you need on Saturday. All business and shops are closed, with the exception of some convenience stores.
Apia Flea Market
The Apia Flea Market is open all day and offers a wide range of handicrafts, imported goods, small convenience stores and food stalls.
Apia Fish Market
Located adjacent to the Flea Market, the Fish Market is open from 05:30 to 11:00 and sells the daily catch. The most activity take place on a Sunday morning around 6 am when everyone wants to get their fish for the Sunday feast…
Apia New Market
Located on Fugalei Street, and also known as the Maketi Fou. This is Apia’s main produce market. Fresh produce, cooked meals and local handicrafts are all sold here. The first time you try a bowl of Kava is an unforgettable experience! This market is currently under reconstruction but will be ready in July 2014 (hopefully). Fruits and vegetables are sold nearby at 100s of small family stands.
Samoan handicrafts include wood carvings and woven bags, baskets and mats. Traditional wood carvings include Kava bowls, walking sticks and war clubs (full size or miniature). Bags, baskets and mats are woven from narrow strips of leaves. The traditional toga, the highest quality and most beautiful mat, is made from strips of pandanus leaves.
The ie lavalava (sarong) is an ideal dress in warm, tropical Samoa. Apart from pure comfort, the colors, patterns and motifs can be spectacular and stunning. Well worth a purchase!
Originally meant only for women of rank in Samoa, traditional Samoan tattoos (pe’a) somehow filtered down to men. Because of the distinction attached, tattooing became very popular among the youths of Samoa who considered tattoos to be a mark of their manhood. Wander into on of the local Samoan tattoo shops and have a look at the intricate patterns which are unique for the Samoan culture.