I´ve just realised that bananas can be used when they’re still green! It`s almost like a potato, and it`s just a matter of being creative. My favourite dish, so far, is french fries, and it is hard to tell that it is made of bananas and not potatoes. Tortilla Espaniola (omelet) with green bananas and a ´boiled-green-banana-dip´ with tuna are also good options. I wish I new this a few months ago, on our passages from Panama to Galapagos, Easter Island and French Polynesia, as we had tons of bananas that all ripened at the same time and we were struggling to use them all before they went bad. Now we have even started to sun-dry yellow bananas since we have so many of them. At one point we had 238 bananas onboard.
After being a couple of weeks in the remote islands of Gambier, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where there are no big supermarkets and little supply of fresh food, I´ve come to realise that you need to be creative with what you got. We bought a lot of food in Panama before we started our voyage into the Pacific 3-4 months ago, so we are still good when it comes to cans and dried food but on the fresh stuff, we are kind of empty. Fruit, vegetables and dairy products are not easy to get here. They sell something in the small shops, like onions, garlic and potatoes, and when the supply-ship comes every 2-3 weeks, there might be some carrots and cabbage, but you need to be there exactly when the shops are resupplied in order to get hold of some of it and you need to be willing to spend money on it because it is not cheap ($11 USD for a cabbage). They have meat, baguettes and cheese most of the time. It`s French after all.
However, the islands around here are very green and lush, and there are fruit and vegetables growing in people’s gardens and in the jungle. If you walk along the road around the island and talk to people you’d be surprised at how often you’re given something that they grow in their gardens. What they have is seasonal. We met this wonderful old lady in her house along the road, and she gave us bananas and pampelmouse (a mix between orange, grapefruit and lemon). Not just a little, we got two big stalks of bananas and 17 pampelmouse. In addition to this, we did a hike the other day and found 131 lemons, 5 big pumpkins, and we were given 4 aubergines, 10 papayas and 2 avocados that we brought onboard. Our boat looks like a garden at the moment, with fruits hanging everywhere!! These are fruit and vegetables that I´m not very used to, but after talking to people I´ve been introduced to a number of new dishes that we have tried and will be trying in the next couple of weeks.
We have also been hunting coconuts the last weeks. It feels good to walk along a beautiful beach searching for coconuts. Throwing stones at the coconuts, or even climbing the palm trees to get them down. The use of a machete makes the boys feel like real men! Of the young and fresh coconuts we take the coconut water out and use it for drinking, the older ones we take the meat and either snack on it fresh, make coconut milk, coconut pulp or coconut chips of it. We have also made a number of different cakes with coconut lately.
Since pumpkins are growing as weed along the roads, and they last for a couple of months, we have filled up the boat. Schnitzel with pumpkin instead of meat is a winner, and the seeds inside can easily be roasted and used as snacks or in salads. I´ve even learned that green unripened papayas are really good to grate into a nice little side-dish with lemon, olive oil and spices.
Our favourite breakfast at the moment is smoothie with banana, papaya, homemade coconutmilk, self-picked lemons and freshly baked baguettes from the local bakery. I didn´t know that it is possible to make our own yoghurt, but once we get hold of some yoghurt to start up the process we will start doing so. It`s apparently easy, you only need to add warm (60 degrees) milk into a bit of yoghurt, keep it warm for some hours and after a while everything will turn into yoghurt.
It sounds like life in paradise is all about the food at the moment, but we do explore and enjoy ourselves also. Gambier is nice for hiking, with two peaks just underneath 500 m, and the pearl-industry is very visible with it´s oysters hanging on buoys all around the islands. More about that in a separate blog-post named: Secret of the Black Pearl. The boat projects and challenges we have encountered lately is a chapter for itself, and yes as is usual when you’re in paradise, there have been a number of issues lately.