Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kava drinking
Kava is the alcoholic drink that Fijians drink at traditional ceremonies like a lovo feast. This traditional feast will be explained in further detail later with great pics from JP's great camera.
Kava looks like mud and I think it almost tastes like it too! (see the brown liquid in the large bowl, that is kava - looks yummy eh?) The ritual before downing the dentist-like numbing agent is to clap three times before you are handed a coconut shell full of this root goodness and to slurp it all down in one go and then clap once to signify that you are finished.

In the past the drinking of kava was saved for important ceremonies but today it is used more informally and quite socially with the village males who drink it while singing or swapping stories. The singing by the Fijians is something very beautiful too, they have very distinct and strong voices.

It is rude to not drink your whole coconut cup full so you have to just take a deep breath and do it even if you think it is vile tasting (this is what I did). Kava is made from a root and has a peppery taste and is known to have many benefits as a herbal remedy from curing anxiety to depression to insomnia. I found a laundry list of its benefits on a website selling it so not sure how accurate all these claims are to its healing magical powers. One thing is for sure, it will get you very drunk if you drink enough!

Kava's Latin name Piper methysticum literally translates as "intoxicating pepper" has been used for centuries, by the inhabitants of the South Pacific Islands -as a ritual drink, a social beverage, and also as a medicine. Kava (Piper Methysticum) is a lush, leafy green member of the pepper family, from the tropical islands of the South Pacific.

Kava comes in a powdery mix that is brewed in cold water for a few minutes, then it is squeezed through a cloth to filter out all the sediments (muddy looking stuff) and then voila it is a clear liquid to drink. If you get to try some Fijian kava try it - I think the Fijians laughed at all the tourists faces and reactions when they were downing these little coconut cups full of goodness.

The woman in the picture Carol Dunlop is also the only female skipper in Fiji, she skippers the yacht called Surprise which is a privately chartered boat. In a male dominated county she is quite the anomaly and I love her spunkiness. She sat and sang and drank kava with the males all night which is most likely unheard of in Fiji. Her crew and guests came to Otto and Fanny's on our last night there for a lovo feast, cava drinking and singing. It was all very festive and our hosts Fanny and her son Harry put on a great spread, as usual. Bula!

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