Photo Essay: Thanksgiving Lovo in Fiji

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We spent the American holiday of Thanksgiving in Fiji and had a lovo to celebrate.

Lovo is a Fijian smoking technique that entails digging a shallow hole in the dirt and laying down stones, firewood, large leaves (including palm fronds), rice/flour sacks and dirt in layers. The leaves, sacks and dirt create a seal on the top with the effect of an earthen oven, and this locks moisture into the food. With a good lovo master, the result is incredibly tender, juicy food infused with smoky flavor. Surprisingly, it takes only about 1.5 hr. for a lot of food to cook.

You can cook whatever meat, poultry and/or fish you want in the lovo. Root crops such as sweet potatoes and dalo (taro) are traditional, as well as palusami.

Palusami is one of my favorite Fijian dishes. It comprises rourou (dalo leaves) and, if done in the traditional style, freshly squeezed coconut milk.

Our household team did an excellent job, from building the lovo pit/fire to prepping the ingredients and cooking perfectly tender and moist chicken, ribs, root crops and palusami.

We also had kokoda, which is a traditional side dish with lovo. It’s another of my Fijian favorites: a ceviche made of coconut milk and a lot of moli (a type of local lemon that looks like a lime on the outside).

A kava ceremony is traditional with a lovo. Kava is a mild intoxicant that numbs the tongue. It’s made from a pulverized root mixed with water and tastes like an earthy tea. Kava ceremonies can be formal or informal. A master of ceremonies prepares the kava in a tanoa (kava bowl) and passes a coconut-shell cup to each person sitting in a circle on the floor on a ceremonial mat. Everyone drinks from the same cup.

By the way, I can’t take credit for these photos. They’re all the work of hubby, shot on a Canon T7.