HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 599: 18 January 2012

Taste of Cooks Goes Fruity
Monday night saw the resumption of CITV’s popular cooking series, A Taste of Cooks. Presented by Shona Pitt and filmed and edited by Julie Taripo-Shedden, the series has gained the attention of many locals and foreigners alike, has promoted our local dishes, vegetables and fruit, which our people seem to take for granted.
The Ministries of Health and Tourism, have contributed much to the series.
Indeed, it is in the best interests of the Ministry of Health to encourage our people to have a daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, which brings the “5+ a day” plan into action. That is, three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit every day. People do not have to go to the extremes of purchasing their fruits, when there is a bountiful supply of them growing in your backyard. Due to either laziness or inability to plant their own fruit trees, people rely heavily on supermarkets to supply them with their fruit, at a ridiculously high cost. They then use this as an excuse to avoid buying fruits.
Shona takes a stroll through the Punanga Nui market, to see what the vendors have in store. She comes across Kura Cowan, who is selling mandarins (anani papaa to the locals). Mandarins are a seasonal citrus that begins to bear fruit in the month of May. Kura states that it takes four years for a mandarin tree to start developing fruit. Although this may seem like a lengthy waiting period, it is certainly worth the wait, as the result can be a whole harvest of mandarins.
On the way, Shona discovers that there is a variety of fruits that are for sale. Pineapples, star fruits, and a type of orange that is more commonly known to the locals as the Matavera orange. She also spotted a couple of Nu, just waiting for a customer to purchase them. The Nu is a young coconut, which is perfect for a hot day, as it is a thirst quenching refreshment. This drink is very popular among the tourists for its wholesome taste.
Next thing that was to be discussed was the local chestnut or i’i. Shona was pondering whether the chestnut was a fruit or a vegetable. Karen Tairea, a Nutritionist attached to Public Health, soon clarified that the chestnut was, in fact, neither. The chestnut is belongs to the ‘Nut’ category, which is a different thing entirely. The vendor, who kindly put her chestnuts up for display, revealed that she first boiled the chestnuts, then baked them in an underground oven (umu). The result is a succulent bowl of chestnuts, whose texture has softened due to the prolonged exposure of heat in the underground oven. Viewers are warned not to eat too much of this nut, as you’ll be “passing wind”, Shona cheekily quotes.
Kaika, the English term is known as crab apple, was the next fruit that Shona and Julie went to inspect. Kaika trees are not as plentiful as it was in the past, and the very few that are left, have fruits at the very top of the tree. This posed as a problem for Shona, who had to retrieve a ladder in order to get to the fruit. The Kaika is very delicate, as it can bruise easily and spoils when put into the fridge, so it’s best to eat it on the spot. It has a sweet taste and is great for the school lunchbox.
Kataraapa, custard apple or sour sop, is a tree that is, thankfully, easy to access, is a fruit that is rich in flavour. The white flesh has a smooth, creamy texture and there are a whole load of seeds inside the fruit. The outer appearance is green and it has thorn-like spikes (which aren’t as threatening as they sound. They’re actually soft) This fruit is a great addition to fruit smoothies and desserts.
Mangoes are a fruit that you cannot miss on Rarotonga. There are trees everywhere you look. The mangoes are a seasonal fruit, and are usually plentiful during the hurricane season. It is said that a large amount of mangoes in a bunch is a sure sign of an upcoming cyclone. The growth rate of mangoes is largely affected by climate change. An example of this is when mangoes fruit twice a year or are plentiful for one year, and the next year, there is almost nothing. Despite its irregular growth rate, the mango cannot be compared to any other fruit in terms of taste. You can stew them and freeze the mixture, or you could make yourself a chutney.
The jackfruit is a fruit that resembles the breadfruit, but is more curved in shape. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre, iron and zinc. It is advised that you do not eat the actual flesh of the fruit, but the outer covering of the seed. You can also boil this fruit and it can be served as a dessert or appetizer. This fruit is known to the locals as Kuru papaa (European Breadfruit).
Guavas are another fruit to look out for. There are two varieties of this fruit: The pink fleshed kind, which is more common and the white fleshed guava, which was introduced to the Cook Islands from overseas. It’s perfect when it’s peeled and simmered on the stove and then served with ice cream. This fruit has a “punch” to it but be warned. If you eat too much guavas, there’s a good chance that you might get constipated.
Star fruits are another fruit in season. This fruit is sweet and sour in taste and makes a great garnish for cocktails and salads. Star fruits are rich in Vitamin C and are the perfect snack for toddlers who are teething. Just peel the skin off the spines and divide into “sticks”. Another creative way of serving this fruit is to slice it sideways into star shaped pieces.
A favourite fruit of children is the Pistache. From a large tree grown as a shade tree, it is a large purple berry which has a large seed. The fruit can be made into a liqueur or jam.
Shona went to pay Michael Tavioni a visit. Although well known as a master carver, Tavioni was trained as an agriculturist and spent some years in agricultural research at Massey University in New Zealand. With his knowledge and background in agriculture, Tavioni was keen to impart what he knew about planting. He advised people to prune their fruit trees to prevent over-growth and keep the fruit at a lower level, where they will be accessible or to dig out the tree and re-plant. ”We are cutting coconut trees to prevent the coconuts from falling on the heads of tourists,” Tavioni says. He recommends planting guavas, paw paws, and bananas, as these trees can produce fruits all year round. -Norma Ngatamariki

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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