Chances are you have never heard about Micronesia. Micronesia is made up of 607 islands and they take up over a 2.589.988 km² of oceanic territory however, in land surface area they only make up 702 km². These islands are divided into 4 states: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. The islands were formed from underwater volcanos.
Culturally the people of Micronesia come from a long line of clans mostly rooted in traditional stories passed down from generation to generation. For instance, there is the legend of a cursed city that the twin sorcerers created; Nan-Madol. Supposedly they had the help of a flying dragon and that’s how the first dynasty was started according to legend.
Nan-Madol is just as special as Easter Island or Machu Picchu just less accessible and therefore less well-known. To even be able to enter Nan-Madol you have to ask the Chief of the clan for protection and permission to enter the site. There are rumors of people who died who didn’t follow this protocol. You have to undergo a special sakau-ceremony to get the approval of the chief: drink a drink made out of sakau root which is mushed by hand to make sure the spirits of Nan-Madol accept you. Only a tiny fragment of the legendary Saudeleurs city can still be seen, mangroves hide what else is covered.
But who were these Saudeleurs? Pohnpeian legend recounts that the Saudeleur rulers were of foreign origin and that their appearance was quite different from native Pohnpeians. The Saudeleur centralized form of absolute rule is characterized in Pohnpeian legend as becoming increasingly oppressive over several generations. Arbitrary and impossible demands, as well as a reputation for offending Pohnpeian gods and religion. All of this naturally sowed resentment among Pohnpeians.
The Saudeleur Dynasty ended with the invasion of Isokelekel, another semi-mythical foreigner, who replaced the Saudeleur rule with the more decentralized nahnmwarki system which is still in existence today.
Things you didn’t know about Micronesia
- In Yap, one of the four states, you should never enter a village without anything in your hands. If you have nothing, then it is understood that you have nothing to do there and have ill intentions. Carrying a green leaf is a sign of having peaceful intentions and a good way to occupy your hands.
- Chuuk is undoubtedly the wreck diving capital of the world. There are over 50 shipwrecks that sank in Chuuk Lagoon after Operation Hailstone in WWII destroyed the Japanese base. This is a diver’s paradise with wrecks for all levels and at all depths, including some that can be snorkeled. And there is not much else tod do Chuuk , so exploring the underwater life is a must.
- Although the Micronesian states are made of 607 islands, most of them, especially the larger ones where most visitors stay, are volcanic outcrops surrounded by rocks and mangroves and without any beaches.
Ok so this recipe took me quite a while to come up with. Micronesia doesn’t have a lot of traditional recipes, and since i did’t want to do anything halfway or post a bad recipe. I had to come up with of concoction of my own that highlights a few of the ingredients they use a lot! This recipe is completely vegan and really tasty and also quick to make! So please go ahead and try it. Micronesian readers if you have any traditional recipes you would like to share with please do!
- 50g cashew nuts, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp mild curry powder
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 6 slightly underripe bananas, cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3 lime leaves
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 lemon, zested
- 25g coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp coconut yoghurt
- crispy fried shalots
- Toast the cashewnuts in a frying pan with ½ tbsp of the curry powder over a medium heat for 2-3 mins till golden. Set aside.
- Wipe the pan clean, then add the oil. Fry the onion, apple and chilli for 8 mins over a medium heat until starting to soften. Add the banana, remaining curry powder, cuminseeds, maple syrup and lemon zest. Fry for 2 mins until caramelised, taking care not to mash the banana.
- Stir through the coriander, saving a little to garnish, and season. Throw a big dolop of coconut yoghurt on there and sprinkle the toasted nuts, crispy fried shalots and remaining coriander over the curry.