Turkey Tails and Multicoloured Rice

February 14, 2010 at 10:26 am 4 comments


Cases of cold Budweiser, bags of betelnut (with all the fixings), trays of multicoloured Calrose rice, and the thick, black smoke from turkey tails on the barbecue. These are the requirements for a good Yapese party.


I spent most of my growing-up years on the Micronesian island of Yap, and so have subsequently experienced many Yapese get-togethers. These gatherings are unique and I’ll never forget them.

Everybody always brings something. Whether it’s beer, or rice, or something to throw on the grill, or salad of the macaroni or potato variety. Men and women sit separately, a cultural tradition. The guys drink and pee Bud or Budlight all night long, and the ladies “fix their chews” (betelnut and its condiments) while chatting. And one somebody mans the barbecue, cooking all manner of chicken, hot dogs, and of course, turkey tail. This person is rewarded with beer throughout the grilling process and long after.


Turkey tail, the boniest, fattiest, most cartilaginous, least meatiest part of the bird, is considered almost a delicacy in Yap.   When put on the grill, its fat liquefies and drips like napalm onto the coals below. This results in heavy smoke billowing everywhere, carrying with it the pungent smell of fat evaporating in fire.


Yapese parties always have enough rice. In fact, sometimes they have too much! Because everybody eats it and nearly everybody brings it. However, very rarely will you see typical rice. White rice is an oddity at Yapese events. What you will see is rice that has been dyed with various hues of food colouring.

The rice is often shaped into palm-sized triangles, squares, or ovals. The most commonly-seen colours are  teal blue, golden yellow, forest green, hot pink, and greyish-purple. So there will be trays of these multicoloured rice shapes ready to accompany the rest of the food.

Photos of the rice are hard to find, but this one will do.

While it may sound strange, eating coloured rice and something which isn’t even considered an actual food product in the developed world, to Yap it is culture. And to me, it is part of my background.


Photo Sources:

Calrose rice: http://www.sonray.com/calrose10kg.gif

Budweiser logo: http://www.typophile.com/files/budweiser_6713.gif

Turkey Tails: http://tastyislandhawaii.com/blog/2008/09/06/kalihi-eats-alicias-market/    (This is a great food blog! Check it out!)

Coloured Rice: http://www.minoritiesofchina.com/food/5-coloured_rice_sm.jpg

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Entry filed under: The Tropical Chronicles. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cindy  |  February 14, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Tropical Chronicles. I like it!

    Reply
  • 2. sarahmunn  |  February 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • 3. cheryl  |  February 28, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Love these little insights ! I could read them all day!

    Reply

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