New Day Cafe: Kiribati


Coconut is traditionally THE staple product of the islands.

Coconut palms dominate the landscape of each island. Along with products from the reef and the ocean, coconuts are the main contributors to the village’s diet, not only the nuts themselves, but also the sap. The collected sap, or toddy, is used in cooking and as a sweet drink; fermented, it becomes an intoxicating drink. Breadfruit and pandanus are also cultivated. Cyrtosperma chamissonis, a coarse taro-like plant, can be grown in pits, but plants such as taro, bananas, and sweet potatoes are rare. Pigs and chickens are raised.…

Coconut and seafood.

I would call it a kind of pumpkin casserole. It is definitely one of the best foods in Kiribati. Follow the 196flavors link and scroll down for the written recipe:

Te bua toro ni baukin, which means “vegetable and meat cake”, is a kind of savory cake made from canned pumpkin, cabbage and meat.…


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As you can imagine, canned meat is as big here as it always has been in Hawaii.

Food accounts for around a third of all imports, most of which come from Australia, Japan and Singapore; Japan and Thailand are the main export destinations. Although South Tarawa has a large wage economy, most people on the outer islands are subsistence farmers earning low incomes from copra, fishing or handicrafts.…

Kiribati had very strict travel restrictions due to the pandemic; however, it has either reopened as I write this or will reopen very soon.

This Guy Makes Three Kiribati Recipes: A Crab and Shrimp Appetizer and a Grilled Mahi-Mahi Main Course with Coconut Rice [9:20]:

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Sailing canoes?

Kiribati society remains conservative and resistant to change; ties to family and traditional land remain strong, and conspicuous displays of individual achievement or wealth are discouraged. Building and racing sailing canoes is a common hobby. Music composition and dancing in customary styles are considered art forms and are the basis of widespread competition. Volleyball and football (soccer) are popular sports.…


People in Kiribati eat a lot of sashimi, so here’s a short video from Japan. There are probably regional variations but I couldn’t find a video for Kiribati sashimi [3:00]:

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Kiribati’s uniqueness from other Pacific Island dance forms is the emphasis on the outstretched arms of the dancer and the sudden movement of the bird-like head. The frigate bird (Minor frigate) on the flag of Kiribati refers to this bird-like Kiribati dance style. Most dances are in a standing or seated position with limited and staggered movements. Smiling while dancing is generally considered vulgar in the context of Kiribati dance. This is because it is not just a form of entertainment, but a form of storytelling and a demonstration of the skill, beauty and stamina of the dancer.[153][154]…

nice dance [9:07]:

Here’s the problem with Kiribati’s recipes in a nutshell: there are few of them.

Kiribati is right up there in the toughest countries to figure out the menu. My usual tricks didn’t work: No Wikipedia article. No annoying but exploitable site of an embassy or the Ministry of Culture. No blog lovingly compiled by an expat living there, or a homesick student abroad. No chatter on the food discussion forums. […] When I couldn’t even find a Peace Corps cookbook, a tip that saved me for some small West African countries, I took my search to the next level and contacted a Peace Corps volunteer…. She explained the challenge: there is no cooking as such, no recipes handed down by grandmothers around the hearth. On the outermost islands where life is most traditional, food is, quite literally, taken as prize: whatever you manage to get from the sea; coconuts, breadfruit and some sweet tree fruits; and a limited assortment of roots and squashes.…

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Pumpkin is an important vegetable in these islands.

It is clear that the variety of food in Kiribati is limited, although it is continually improving as the number of delivery ships increases. Although Western-style products are still limited, basic products are still generally available. The lack of fruits and vegetables is the main concern. Meat is also sorely lacking in the islands.…

Rice, however, is now available.

After World War II, rice became a daily staple in most households, which it still is today. The majority of seafood, fish in particular, is eaten sashimi-style with coconut sap, soy sauce, or vinegar-based dressings often combined with chili peppers and onions.…

To answer the question in the tweet, YES, yes I would like to visit.


This is not so much a recipe as a model, if you come across fresh parrot fish:

Te inai or fried parrot fish is a typical Kiribati dish prepared with a vibrant reef fish known as inai in Kiribati. This exotic fish is usually prepared whole – it is first marinated in a mixture of garlic, lemon juice and seasonings, then fried in hot oil until crispy.

Fried parrotfish is usually eaten with a fresh salad and mashed pumpkin on the side.…

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So go to the cafe and have a cup of tea…

…and good food…


…and join us!

New Day Cafe is an open thread. What do you want to talk about today?


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