Ethnobotanical foods of Micronesia
The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany students presented plant based traditional foods of Micronesia. Vanessa and Julie Ann began with a presentation of mar - aged fermented breadfruit.
After retrieving the fermented breadfruit, the Pingalapese put the breadfruit in a cloth bag and immerse in water to rinse the mar. This step is omitted by Pohnpeians hence their mar having a stronger fermented flavor. Sometimes in the process of squeezing the bag is stood upon to fully expel the water.
The breadfruit is then kneaded until the dough becomes plastic. In times of lore, women would roll out their breadfruit into oblong masses that were significantly longer on one axis than on the other. In a contest situation, the masses would be flipped end-over-end. Most would apparently break in the process. The winner was the one whose kneaded breadfruit did not break. She was the "number one" woman on Pingelap.
Mar is then usually uhm baked. Mar provided a way to store breadfruit. This spread out the food provided by a short but bountiful breadfruit season. Mar also provided food after a typhoon wiped up other critical food supplies.The two year old mar had a wonderful creamy texture and a nice subtle tartness.
Within the main lagoon of Chuuk, men pound the breadfruit. Out in the Mortlocks, however, the women pound the breadfruit. The wood slab on which the breadfruit is pounded is called a nif. A pwin is used to peel the breadfruit, a po or pwo is used to pound the breadfruit.
The low caste Yapese can contribute food to the high caste, but this practice is usually only in regards a particularly large fish or other uniquely special food item. The high caste Yapese farm their own lands and prepare their own food, as do the low caste on their land.
High caste and low caste cannot share a dish of food. This is rather different from Pohnpei where high titles and low titles can share a common ngarangar of sakau.
Mai uhm is breadfruit cooked in an uhm, mai sukusuk is pounded breadfruit that was boiled. Lihli is never cut with a knife. Only with a clean finger. A knife would also cut the banana leaf. Use of a blunt finger ensures the banana leaf remains intact.
Jasmine noted that tininung piringena goes for $3.99 for two eggplants up in the Marianas. That puts the above platter at over twenty-five dollars retail. The eggplant is barbecued until it just starts to burn slightly. Then the burned bits are removed. A sauce made of raw onions, lemon, salt, and soy sauce is poured over the eggplant, followed by coconut milk.