Samoa Everyday Life
Eating in the past and eating today
In Samoa it is primarily about getting full, as there are often many mouths to feed in a family. And since the majority of Samoans are not very rich, they prefer to fall back on exactly what the land has to offer and what the people can grow themselves. These include breadfruit, plantains and taro, also known as water roots.
All of these varieties have to be processed in a certain way, i.e. boiled or baked or both. And there is also? Correct! Coconut cream. However, this is completely different from the coconut milk that you get from us, but this consists of the pulp of the fresh coconut and is pressed out of there. The result is a creamy cream, the coconut cream. It is very substantial, tasty and high in calories.
It used to be the men who cooked, not the women
Incidentally, it was not women who cooked in Samoa in the past, but mostly men, because the cooking work was really “hard men’s work”. With vegetables there are chicken and pork or fish and seafood, turtles and lobsters and of course mussels.
The Umu is only used at festivals
Traditionally, people cook in the umu, the earth oven. But cooking in this self-made structure takes a few hours. Even if you usually have more time in Samoa than anywhere else in the world, this type of preparation is usually reserved for parties and larger celebrations.
A popular dish is palusami, which is made from the leaves of the taro plant. Then there is coconut cream again.
Our food has also found its way into Samoa
That was the food that people used to eat in Samoa. This food was healthy, because you completely avoided pasta, rice, bread and sweet drinks, i.e. all kinds of fattening foods. These foods have now been introduced to Samoa.
There is also canned meat, fatty lamb, chips or mayonnaise. Even the American fast food chain McDonalds has found its way into paradise. Whereby the food there is mostly reserved for tourists because the prices of the hamburger chain are hardly affordable for an average earner. In Samoa, deep-fried food is also very popular: Fried foods and chips are not only popular with children.
But why don’t the Samoans continue to eat their delicious, local dishes? And why do we eat so much fast food? It is often easier and quicker to prepare a “quick meal” than to cook it at great expense. This development has not passed Samoa by either.
Being fat is chic!
As on Tonga and other South Sea islands, being fat is simply chic on Samoa. It is a sign of prosperity and wealth. In 2013, for example, the Samoan airline started calculating the travel price based on the passenger’s body weight. But if you look at old pictures of people in Samoa, they are a bit fuller, but not really fat.
Samoa, like many other islands in the Pacific, has the problem of obesity to fight. It starts with the children, because the number of children who are too fat increases year by year. The results are diseases that no one got in the past or only in old age, such as diabetes, which we also call diabetes, or diseases of the heart and circulatory system, even at a young age.
Life in the country
Most of the people still live in the country. Even if more and more people are drawn to the city and the capital Apia appeals to more and more people, many prefer to continue living in their family group, which offers them security.
Whenever possible, they commute back and forth between town and village. Many villages have at least one small shop and have electricity and water.
How do people live in Samoa?
The classic “houses” in Samoa are round buildings called fales. Openness is characteristic of the fale. There are no windows, just woven mats that can be lowered for protection in rainy weather. Otherwise the huts are open. There are no walls and everyone can look in from the outside.
The roof originally consisted of a special sheet of sugar cane and rests on wooden beams. This type of hut is optimally adapted to the climate of the country. It stays cool because it provides shade and at the same time airy.
It’s actually like living on your patio at home. These houses are usually destroyed in cyclones, but rebuilding them is not nearly as difficult as, for example, a wooden house.
This construction method is still preferred today, only there are now other materials that are used for construction. There are no more sugar cane leaves in Samoa, the roofs are now mostly made of sheet metal.
But not only the villagers of Samoa live like this. Many hotels also build these traditional huts for guests, but then they are more comfortable and are often fitted with blinds.