Sampling A Traditional Pig Mumu Feast
If you make it to the highlands of Papua New Guinea, make sure to get yourself to any village. If you’re lucky, the locals will treat you to a pig Mumu lunch.
I visited two close but very different villages in the Western Highland Province of the country – a short flight from the capital city of Port Moresby.
Our group were led to a small clearing in the bush and duly informed that it was lunchtime. Having already been told of what was to come, a slight sense of unease mixed with anticipation washed over.
Emerging from the undergrowth a large 4 year old pig clearly knows what’s in store.
He is pulled unwillingly towards the makeshift fire pit, held down and struck repeatedly across the head with a tree branch. His body falls backwards into a ball and It’s game over for the hog surprisingly quickly.
He is washed and then placed over the fire where his hair crackles until dry and adequately singed.
The hair is then removed using a wooden stick which scrapes every inch of the body over the naked flame.
Lunch is Served
The animal is then placed on banana leaves next to the fire pit, ready to be dissected. Using little more than an axe, the cook removes the internal organs and the headless body is strewn out on the ground. All the while stones are being stock piled on the fire to be heated for the next stage.
Nearby a large hole is dug out and the ground is laid with leaves. Hot stones from the fire are placed alongside the fresh meat, herbs and sweet potato.
A cover is placed and it is left to roast for an hour. A hike and swim at a stunning waterfall passes the time wonderfully before the whole village sits down to lunch. A feed surely fit for a king.
This is what’s known as a “Pig Mumu”. Papua New Guinea’s traditional method of cooking for celebrations.
Big Day Out
The very next day it’s a different Western Highland village but this time there’s a show in progress and everyone’s invited.
The place is awash with colour and noise. It’s a school event but it seems everyone from the kids to the teachers and extended family have all turned out.
We (a group of 8) are the first foreigners to visit the village and are welcomed with warm smiles throughout the day. We are then led to the front row to view the show’s parade.
Offerings from bananas to beer are showered upon us. Anywhere you try to walk shouts of “good afternoon!” follow and your hand is shook constantly.
It is the world’s greatest welcome and it’s all 100% genuine.
Welcome to Papua New Guinea.