by Sandhya T. '20
Before coming to Fiji, during our pre-trip week, we had been given the assignment to research one aspect of the country we wanted to learn more about and I decided to research Fiji’s most popular foods. Out of the many dishes that I learned about, the one that stood out to me the most was lovo.
Lovo, meaning “feast cooked in the earth,” is typically made for big celebrations and festivities, such as weddings. The reason why the dish is called a feast cooked in the earth is because of how the food is prepared. Many different foods, such as meats, vegetables, and more, are wrapped up and put in a hole in the ground that is heated up by hot rocks. Then leaves are piled on top and the food cooks for a few hours before gaining its popular smoky flavor. Today, we were lucky enough to have the honor of helping prepare and participate in the lovo. From grating coconuts, to making our own coconut milk, to peeling and cutting cassava, to cutting the bananas down from the tree, to weaving the baskets used to hold the food while it was cooking, we were able to help with it all (though maybe not as efficiently as they could have done it). Almost everyone in the village was there, helping out with the lovo in any way they could.
My favorite part of helping with the lovo was preparing the coconut. To grate the coconuts, we used a special bench with a small, serrated part on the edge. Then we sat on the bench and used the sharp end to grate the inside of the coconut. Grating the coconuts was my favorite part because I found that it was actually a very relaxing process.
Later that day, we attended a bonfire outside the village community hall. It was hosted by my family and the four others who live near us. We started the evening by lighting the fire, before turning on the music and starting to dance. It was fun to see both the little kids and the adults dancing around the fire, and we even started a conga line. Even if people weren’t dancing, they were still enjoying the music from the side.
One of the best parts of the bonfire was seeing the stars at night. In Seattle, it’s almost impossible to look at the stars because of the light pollution from the city. Here in the village, the stars at night are so prominent, I always make sure to take the time to look up while I walk back from dinner at the community hall. It’s hard to believe we’ve already spent a week here, and the sight of the stars at night will definitely be one of the biggest things I will miss.