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EASTER ISLAND

GASTRONOMY

From time immemorial, food has had not only a function of nutrition, but also a ritual significance for the population of Easter Island, because it formed a culminating part of the important religious rites, such as a child's first tattooing, which was not satisfactorily concluded until after the grateful father of the child offered a banquet in honor of the "tattooer".

Moreover, those who took part in the carving and transport of the Moais were rewarded for their efforts with another magnificent feast. The fact is that for the Rapa Nui (as the islanders called themselves) food was - and still is - the most precious gift a person can receive.

The delicious and appetizing island tributes are prepared with wonderful combinations of seafood, such as lobster, rape rape (similar but smaller), tuna, sawfish, sea urchins, koreha (eel) and heke (octopus).

Among the main dishes are included umu ta'o or curanto, a preparation of fish, shellfish and vegetables that is wrapped in banana leaves before being slowly cooked in a hole in the ground covered with pre-heated volcanic rocks. It is served with a side helping of sweet potato (camotes) and po'e, a flour, banana and pumpkin pudding.

Another traditional dish is Tunu ahi, fish cooked on red-hot stones. Another recipe redolent of sea breeze is cebiche, that is made with fish or shellfish.

As man does not live on fish alone, Easter Island cuisine also includes meat dishes, such as pork or mutton ribs, a favorite food among the islanders, who accompany it with camote, mandioca, taro or uhi.

Another usual ingredient in islander diet is banana (plantain), because around 15 varieties of this fruit grow on the island. Generally it is served with the seafood.

In addition to the former dishes, the Rapa Nui menu also offers pizza and international cooking, for those visitors who are more conservative in their taste.
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