I never thought of myself as a fan of vegetables or healthy eating. A vegan came to visit me once in Florida and I realized I had no idea what to cook for him.
Who knew that I would become the queen of the vegetable hunt in Samoa? We have fresh vegetables here. Carrots, potatoes, onions and cabbage are usually available all year. Tomatoes, which look like roma tomatoes but are usually sold unripe (green), are also frequently available. Eggplant is also available during much of the year. Bok choy is also commonly found.
On the other island you can buy lettuce, zucchini, corn and a variety of fruits that you can’t buy in Savaii. Why? They can be grown here. I had a fleeting glance of whole husked corn on the cob at a village stand today as I rode past in the bus. I lust after corn on the cob. Why isn’t it sold at the market?
I’ve asked people why certain vegetables aren’t available here. The typical answer is “Why would you want them?” There are canned and frozen vegetables available, but the variety is very limited. Whole kernel corn and creamed corn are readily available in the grocery store and inexpensive. Yet, in all the meals I’ve had I’ve enjoyed in Samoa I’ve never seen them used. Who buys the huge tins of creamed corn and what do they do with it?
Beets are also available occasionally although there are no canned tomatoes on my island. Why is that? I can buy canned or frozen mixed vegetables but just some nice frozen peas? Not available. Why? Frozen broccoli? Not available. Asparagus? Yes, I can buy a tin for about $8 US if I go to a special store in Apia. Cauliflower? I had to draw pictures to try to explain what it is.
There are a variety of salad dressings available for sale. But no greens, other than cabbage, on which to put them. Why? And what the hell do people do with them? Pour them on to the canned mixed vegetables, which, in my book, don’t even count as vegetables?
I buy chicken from my family’s store one piece at a time. A large thigh/drumstick makes two meals for me. They each eat three or four pieces of chicken that size at every meal. They laugh and ask what I eat if I don’t eat meat. Vegetables. If I can find them.