The Mark of the Jandal

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The other other white meat.

Last week I was sitting in the office with the door open. We don't use air conditioning so the windows and door are open to get a nice draft moving through the room. I was reading either a book or something on my computer when a blur moved through my peripheral vision. The first thought was: that rat was huge and had to posses a large set in order to run around during the day. Naturally I had to see this rat. So I walked around the desk where I saw it run, and I found a kitten. Of course, I felt a kind of sympathy for the little beast. As I reached for it, I was greeted with a hiss and claws.

I reached an agreement with the kitten. I wouldn't try to befriend it, and it wouldn't try to take off part of my finger. When Jonathan came in, I told him there was a kitten by his desk. He looked at me with a questioning look. He received the same warm greeting from the little one and came to a similar conclusion. At the end of the day we locked everything up and left. The kitten was waiting for me under the desk beside mine when I returned the next morning. We fed it some milk that day, and while it seemed happy to have the food, it was still afraid of us --- not that I can hold fear of a being over a hundred times ones own size.

This is when Bryan and I began to conspire. See we have a bit of a rodent problem (rat and mouse). While I'm find of rats as pets, I don't really like sharing food with them. The have thwarted many of our traps, and I've come up with some sophisticated plots with the standard spring loaded rat traps. This cat was to be the solution to that problem. We determined that if the kitten was there the next day, we would take it home and develop a working relationship. We would provide it with food, shelter, and medical care. It would provide us with a rodent free home.

So this is our new cat:

Of course I'm living on a volunteers salary. So this means that I don't normally spend that much money on meat. And we all know that the younger the animal, the more tender and juicy the cut. So, after a couple days of feeding and fattening up the cat, I couldn't take it any longer:

It's ok, I haven't seen the Samoan branch of the People for Eating Tasty Animals.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Chicken of the sea

Bryan mentioned that he was going to Falevao on Saturday morning and returning that evening. I wanted to visit my family there one more time before school starts the following Monday, so I planned to accompany him. I also wanted to bring something for my family there so that I didn't feel like I just show up there to eat --- not that they would mind if that were the case. I thought it would be nice to bring some fish, and I've been wanting to goto the fish market in the morning. We were told by many people that it's quite a site to behold at dawn. We had been told that we should get there early, around dawn. So, I got a couple other people (Andrew and Skye) to join me at five to goto the fish market. We took a taxi (five tala split 3 ways) and got there a little after five. We were the only people there...

To me, getting up at six is normal, and five is early. In my approximation, dawn is when you can see sunlight. So when there is enough light in the sky to see without the aid of artificial light, it's past dawn. My dawn happens here around 5.15am fairly consistently. However the general concepts of "early" and "dawn" are different here --- I'm also told that we should go on Sundays to get the full effect. Early and dawn are around 6.30 or seven here. So we waited at the fishmarket until a boat arrived and people began unloading ice chests full of fish. We waited until around 7.30 for enough people to get there to have a good idea of what was available.

I'm a big fan of tuna, and I will probably become mad as a hatter living here. While I understand tuna can get up to three hundred pounds, the fish they were pulling out were quite large when considering my landlocked sensabilities. The large ones were sliced up in to pieces which were about 2-3 inches thick and the smaller ones were sold whole. I had seen my family bring the smaller ones back from the market, and that was what I was looking to get. I started poking around and I noticed a bright red fish. Skye asked and the woman said it was red snapper and it cost 70 tala --- I would say this fish was pretty small, about thirteen inches long.

I was there to get fish for both my family and Bryans as well for us. If the price of the red snapper was any indication, then I wasn't going to be able to satisfy much in terms of a family gifts. After waiting around for a while, a woman showed up on a bus with some ice chests filled with smaller tuna. I was pretty happy when she started placing price tags on them. I was able to get two of the largest smaller tuna for 30 tala each. I assumed that I was still paying the palagi tax but not enough to make me feel like I was being violated:

We next went to the place where the slices were being sold. In the picture, the little girl is supposed to be dissuading the flies with the leafy branch. Though it seemed more like she was providing shade for the fish. I piked up one the slabs for 20 tala. Again I assumed I was paying the palagi tax, but $7.50 for several pounds of tuna steak was still a really good deal.

I returned home around 7.45 and woke Bryan up. I had spent 40 tala for each of us and we had gifts for our families and enough tuna for three meals. I wrapped the fish up well so our bags wouldn't reek of rotten fish after the bike ride to the village. We left our place around 8.30 and showed up in Falevao around 10.30. My family wasn't expecting me, but were happy to see me none the less. They looked surprised when I whipped the fish out of my bag. Bryan said his family just laughed at him. The general though by Samoans is that 14 miles is way to far to ride a bike and it's just plane silly to carry a fish... Bryan's family told him that the fish we got should have only been 20 tala, so the tax was 10 tala. They sad that the 70 tala red snapper was wrong and the lady should have gone to jail. While we were in the village, it started raining. My family said I should stay the night and wait until for a time when it wasn't raining. They essentially live in a rainforrest, so that translates into: you should never leave. When I got to Bryans house, it was a little over cast, but the rain looked to be over for a while. He told me that his familiy was worried we would get sick if we rode in the rain, so they called someone with a truck to take us and our bikes back. It didn't rain again until much later that night.

When we arrived at home, brian worked on dinner. I've never bought fish large portions of fish because they've always been too expensive. Bryan had bough precut fillets, but wasn't really sure how to approach this: He basically cut around the boney parts until all that was left was the meat: Then he seared each side for a minute or so. Dinner was damn good: