Here in PNG, one way to cook food is called a Mumu–it’s actually more of an event than just a way to cook food. Today we participated in our first one. The day started with a trip to the market and the grocery store accompanied by one of our local neighbors who had invited us to join her for a mumu (and invited us to buy the meat.) When we returned, I walked over to their house where we began the process by lining a pit with stones then firewood.

Next the fire was lit.

Then more wood was piled on and covered with another layer of stone.

I left this stone to heat up over the fire and returned home to trade places with Elizabeth. Elizabeth joined the ladies in preparing the food which was soon to be cooked.

Notice the “grater” on the right in this picture:

Then, after nap time, I was summoned to bring the kids down (unfortunately in the rain.) You can’t see Everett in this picture, but he is riding in the backpack on my back.

Now that the stones were good and hot, a shell was made on top of them out of banana leaves and the food was piled on.

Then more banana leaves on top (and the fabric part of an umbrella and a burlap bag) before the whole lot was buried.

After about an hour, the dirt was scraped off and the table cloth was spread.

Then the food was dished out.

Or tossed out.

Layer by layer.

With one of the children assigned to fly repellent duty.

Until the feast was spread.

And then we feasted.

  1. Makes me want to go grill some burgers. BRB.

    • Melissa Theodore

      What are you eating? Chicken and Some type of potato is my best guess. Looks like you all enjoyed the feast!

      • Elizabeth

        lamb flaps, sweet potatoes, all sorts of greens, and cooking bananas. it really was all very bland for our palates! sweet potatoes and greens are the big foods around here. everyone grows them. they have so many kinds of sweet potatoes!

  2. So wait… Where’s the picture of you wearing a baggy, floral-patterned dress?? The title of this post is very misleading…
    Did you have to buy allll of those veggies too, or did your neighbors grow some of them? Looks like a truckload! Annnd the fact that you’re feasting on recently rained-on dirt does not go unnoticed!! I guess “where’s the picnic table?” would be rude, huh? 🙂

    • Joseph

      I wish I had a picture of how nasty Elizabeth’s feet were at the end of this day to reply to your comment MB.

    • Elizabeth

      funny, because all the ladies do wear long floral printed tops (as you may have noticed) but those are called meri blouses, not mumus. so maybe one day soon i’ll post a pic of me in a meri blouse for you!
      she grew most of the veggies, but we took her to the market that morning and she bought some of the greens. all the ladies have big ol gardens. so she provided the veggies and we bought the meat.
      lucy actually asked me where the table was and i translated that for the ladies and they got a big laugh! (lucy tok olsem: “tebol bilong ol i stap we?”)
      thanks for noticing that we were roughing it on the muddy ground! 😉 it was unfortunate that it rained while we were preparing it! it was so nice while we were peeling the potatoes and then it started raining! thankfully it stopped before time to eat. it was actually a pretty short rain.

      • Kelly K

        That was one of the first things I noticed, Elizabeth in her pretty white skirt sitting on the ground! I am amazed that y’all have picked up the language so fast! What a gift!

  3. Denise

    You guys are great. So happy to see you so involved with the people. It’s really cool and slightly convicting. Am I engaging my culture and my neighbors?

  4. Sharon Jacobs

    do you feel like you are more dirty there? Like…going to bed dirty….and not being able to get a shower whenever you feel you need to….is that difficult? I know I cannot stand to have dirty feet and it seems everyone’s feet are dirty….

    • Joseph

      We feel dirty a lot of the time. I do not to go to bed dirty even if I have to take a cold shower–Elizabeth is a little more lax in this area. When we don’t give the kids a bath at bedtime, we at least wash off their feet.

What do you think?