The Foodstuffs

Before I left the US, I asked a kind lady who used to live in Ukarumpa what to expect food-wise. “Well,” she said, “there’s small bananas and green bananas and yellow bananas and pink lady bananas and…” She continued, counting her fingers as she went. “You do like bananas, don’t you?”

Well, I do like bananas. But I was still happy to discover that Ukarumpa offers much more (oh, so much more) than the banana menagerie I had anticipated. What I was not warned about, though, were the prices. (In retrospect, I think I actually was warned… I simply failed to remember).

Here are some figures for you (if you’re not so fond of figures, you can call them “du-bops” if you like) –

A dozen eggs: 12 kina (Two kina, One dollar – it’s all the same. In other words, divide all these prices in two, and you’ll have the US dollar equivalent. If you want it in British pounds, divide it in two, and multiply it again by half a dozen and divide it by some multiple of four…)
Vanilla Extract (though it was a massive jug of it): 13 kina
Chocolate chips: 12 kina
Brown Sugar: 8 kina
Country Time Lemonade mix: 13 kina
Vegetable Oil: 14 kina
Blackberry Jam (small): 16 kina
Ground Beef: 26 kina per pound

The reason, so you know, that prices are so high at the store is (so they say) due to the fact that everything, be it food or drink or dish towel, is imported from nearby countries. The good news is, they have lots of things you wouldn’t expect to find in the wilds of the pacific (like Toblerone chocolates, for starters… though someone mentioned that those were left over from Christmas. Of 2010.).

But there’s even more good news, you’ll be happy to know. There’s the Market. Ah, what a wondrous, wondrous thing. At the Market, which is open every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the local farmers and craftsmen set up booths and sell everything from fresh pineapple to hand-made bags (convenient, by the way, for carrying the pineapples). And since it’s local, it’s cheaper and usually tastier too. Here’s a handful of fruits and veggies I purchased for a mere 3 kina at the store yesterday:

You’ll note that both varieties of avocados are different looking from what we would call “the usual” in the states. I’ll let you know which one treats the ol’ palette best.

The bananas, if you were wondering, are as good as everyone says they are. By everyone, I mean the half a dozen people who told me, “Bananas taste like flour in America. In fact, I don’t even think I’d call them bananas.” I’m not sure I’d go that far. At least not yet.

7 thoughts on “The Foodstuffs

  1. Ha! So, this begs the question: Have the children taught you how to peel and eat a mango with naught but your bare hands whilst leaving no trace of a mess yet?

  2. I fear to tell you that (according to the fellow I asked), “Mangos don’t grow at this altitude.” Bah! So these folks are probably just as messy with mangos (should they ever see them) as I am.

  3. Well, good thing you like bananas; Ben would be up a creek:) Let me know if you’d like me to mail you some food items.
    Love, Ma

  4. Whaaaaat! Well, eatin a banana with naught but your bare hands whilst leaving no trace of a mess is not quite comparable. Any Tom Brown should be able to achieve that in the course of his school days.

  5. Ha! No, that’s just the flour. But they do have quite a few hot peppers at the market (none of which I’ve even considered trying yet).


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