After spending the last three weeks in Bora Bora and a few days on one of the ugliest passages we’ve had in a long time, we were ready to arrive. Destination Aitutaki, Cook Islands. On a cruiser budget, life in Bora Bora can reduce you down to a ration of MERE 2 baguettes a day. Everything on this island is triple the price of the already expensive Society Islands. Luckily, baguette prices are regulated! When we arrived in Aitutaki, we were happy, first of all, to have been able to enter into the narrow shallow pass, safely into the small harbor and that there was room for us since this very tight area only holds about 4 to 5 boats tied stern-to.
Because the food was so expensive in Bora Bora Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard had gone bare. Aitutaki wasn’t exactly known for provisions but I knew we wouldn’t be paying $20 for a package of sliced cheese. Ha! Turned out they just don’t have cheese at all! But, just as good or better, what they have is fresh fruit falling from the trees.
We made friends with a local woman named Mi’e and shared a couple of lazy days eating Aitutaki Caviar (more on this later) and chatting about life. On the day we were to depart we heard her yelling from the shore, “Paul” (Sounded more like Pou’l.)
Seemed she didn’t want us to leave just yet. The feeling was mutual and if I had my choice we would have settled in nice and easy and let the anchor just grow roots there…
She insisted we wait about 20 minutes; her and her husband would be over to the boat in their skiff. When they arrived 20 minutes later they had about 4 potato sacks full of Paw Paws (aka Papaya), pamplemousse (grapefruit), star fruit, guava, passion fruit, cashews, lemons, limes, sour oranges, brown and green coconuts and a large stalk of bananas. All were a most welcome treat! It was a challenge to find space for all the fruit. In these pictures are just 1/4 of it!
This glut of fruit and my personal distaste for waste, made me suddenly more creative in the kitchen. I made guava jelly, star fruit chutney and finally invented Paw Paw Bread, a now-famous family specialty.
We are temporarily aground (I sincerely hope!), living back on land in the U.S. again. When I came upon a beautiful papaya specimen this week in my local grocery store, I decided to make it again. Just picking up a big Paw Paw will always bring memories of Aitutaki roaring back.
So here’s to you Mi’e! May we someday meet you again.
Paw Paw Bread
2 cups flour
2 tea baking soda
1 tea cinnimon
1 cup sugar
¾ cup shredded coconut
2 cups of Paw Paw mashed and drained of excess juices
½ lemon juiced
¾ cup oil or fresh coconut oil from the market it available.
2 tea vanilla
Pre heat oven 350 degrees (180 C or gas mark 4)
Mix all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl or make a well in dry ingredients and add remaining ingredients and mix in till all is incorporated. Do not over mix.
Bake one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Sometimes I would split this recipe in half between two loaf pans to cut back on cooking time and also to avoid burning my bottom. All boat ovens react differently so use what method would work best for yours.