The first thing we need to do after you arrive is prepare the umu, our traditional Samoan “ground oven.” While the rocks are heating up, we’ll work on getting the staples ready, such as taro, green bananas, or breadfruit and coconut-cream dishes such as palusami or fai’ai eleni, along with traditional chicken and fish dishes.
Most of the food is then placed on top of the hot rocks, covered with green leaves, and sealed in — creating a sort of a steam cooker my people have been using for many centuries. As the food begins to heat up and the smoke drifts through our village, don’t be surprised if your mouth begins to water. Our food may be simple, but it is also incredibly delicious. While that’s happening, I’ll teach each of you to weave your own ma’ilo, a simple-to-make coconut-leaf food plate.
The real treat begins when we uncover the umu and dish the food you made into your own ma’ilo. Traditionally, we sit on the ground and eat with our fingers, but we’ll also have more modern chairs and utensils available if you’ll feel more comfortable.