Monday, December 1, 2008


We spent a day hanging out with various ni-Van friends at Gretchen's place recently so it made picture-taking a lot less awkward. Magreth had planned to come up to Gretchen's place with her younger sister, Jen, and all their kids (Jen's 3 and Magreth's 2 youngest). However, Jen ended up not being able to come at the last minute and the morning they were coming, the father of Magreth's 2 girls showed up and said he wanted to spend the day with them. That happens fairly rarely as I understand it, so he headed out with them at daylight and Magreth met me at the "Christmas tree" by the hardware store (our usual meeting place). Just the 2 of us then walked together up to Gretchen's. SIL is the owner of the properties that the Richards and I are staying in so I got permission 1st to have a friend on the grounds. They have requested that ni-Van friends not be invited into the homes (great temptation for stealing and every expat I know here has had at least one break-in to their homes). There is a small building just down from Gretchen's house that has books and home-school curriculum as well as some toys for SIL missionary kids. It has a tin covered cement porch so Gretch brought some mats down and we sat down there. The building has a toilet too so it was perfect. Tania and daughter Grace joined us for the day too. We played Skip-Bo all morning down there, speaking Bislama and storying-on. Great fun and great fluency practice, as well as something to keep things from being awkward when no one knew what to talk about. I have some other friends I might try the game thing with. It takes the focus off having to come up with conversation topics continually so conversation just flows more naturally.

In the afternoon, Gretch had made plans with Monique (who lives on top, next to her house, she's ni-Van and works for SIL) to make simboro. Simboro is grated root vegetable (or cooking banana) made into a doughy form, then rolled into island cabbage leaves. Here is the process in pictures. Please note that our finished product looks pretty pathetic compared to a ni-Van's completed work. Usually they are tight rolls like little taquito-looking things or really nicely rolled tortilla wraps. Anyway, ours were like little mushy lumps, but they tasted the same so no worries.
Step 1: purchase island cabbage in a rolled bundle at the market, in addition to either taro, manioc, cooking bananas, yam, or kumala (sweet potatoes)
Step 2: open up island cabbage roll, unravel each island cabbage leaf, break them off to just have short stems, and lay them in a pile (Tania and Gretch are our models for this one)
Step 3: peel, then grate the chosen root crop/banana (we used wild yam). Add a small amount of water to the bowl you are grating it into (notice this step and the ones above look an awful lot like laplap making) Here are Monique and Grace using the "rasras" (grater) to grate "waelyam" (wild yam)
Step 4: using fingers, mush up the gratings until it comes to a doughy consistency
Step 5: here's where this whole deal starts differing from making laplap - clump some of the doughy filling onto an island cabbage leaf and roll up the leaf into a bundle
Step 6: layer in a pan
Step 7: milk a coconut and squeeze the milk onto the rolled simboro
Step 8: boil until done (Monique was out of firewood so instead of using her firepit, we just used the gas stove-top).

Step 9: add a grub to the top as a garnish Step 10: ha, ha - who believed me on step 9? If I had you going there, you have to let me know. :) They do actually eat grubs here, but not (I don't think) in simboro. I haven't tried one yet but I'm sure in the village when we're all out of peanut butter and dehydrated ground beef, they'll be looking pretty tasty... The grub is one some ni-Van kids found out at Brad and Amber's place. They were playing with it and came to show us so we had to take pictures. This is Josh's hand holding the huge thing. He's Tania and Jim's boy. The real step 9 is eat (the simboro that is)! It's pretty good.
Tania, Grace, and Gretch plus the 3 kids went up to Magreth's family's place (to her sister, Wini's) to make laplap the day before we got together with Magreth for all this (above). Grace isn't afraid to snap shots all day long so they got some great ones of the whole laplap making process, many a lot better than what I posted a month or so ago. If you want to check out her pics, go to this link: Enjoy! Sometime when I'm not falling asleep on my computer I'll type up here why I didn't go with them and some cultural notes so if you're reading this right after I post it, check back in another day for "the rest of the story..." :)

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