Adventures in Food: Lok Beta or Vanuatu Fondue!

I believe I previously discussed some of the food we’ve encountered. I found a new one. Laplap is a sort of root starch and coconut milk pudding. Sort of. If pudding had the consistency of agar agar. Now, laplap can be made any number of ways. The usual is to grate or “scratch” the root starch of choice until it is a sort of pulpy mess, then milk some coconuts into it. You toss the whole thing in a giant leaf and fold the leaf up. Then you bake it over and under hot stones. Pretty straight forward, right?

Well, it turns out that’s just one way to make laplap. You can also make it from breadfruit, which is not a root vegetable, and you make it differently. First, you roast the breadfruit. By roast, I mean build a nice fire and toss the whole breadfruits on it. When they are thoroughly blackened on the outside, you pull them off. This is best done by using a piece of wood that has been split at one end to make a sort of tongs. You peel the still hot breadfruit and pile the squishy innards on giant cutting board. When you have a sufficiently large pile of squishy innards, you pick up your convenient green coconut and start pounding the breadfruit. You keep pounding until it is uniformly one dough texture. Like kneading bread, you just keep re-piling it until you’ve beaten it enough.

When it is ready, you flatten it out to about a half an inch thick with a large mound in the center. You take your coconut and slam it down in the middle of the mound. Then wiggle the coconut a little to make sure it has a good solid hole. Take out the green coconut and put it to the side.

You previously grated a dry coconut to milk. Now, you pull a hot stone out of the fire and put it in the middle of the hole. Then you milk coconut into the stone. It steams and hisses and slightly cooks the coconut milk, making it thicker and more delicious.

Wait about a minute then use the back of a fork or a sharpened stick to cut small half-circles out of the flat part of the breadfruit. The coconut milk is like a fondue pot. You dip the breadfruit in it and eat.

I liked it. In fact, I liked it enough to eat it again later that day. Jason thought it was weird but not as weird as laplap. Or he is just getting used to the textures here.

There is another kind of laplap we haven’t had yet. Apparently it takes a month to make because it has to soak in the ocean. I’m looking forward to the experience.

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