Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
Cooking Utensils And Food Accessories
Cooking Utensils And Food Accessories
Nature provided in the hard shell of the coconut a natural cooking receptacle. The stalk end of the nut was tapped all around with a stone and removed. After the flesh within had been grated with a hand grater, the fluid was poured back and the top of the shell was replaced as a cover. The shell was then placed in the umu with the other food, and the coconut preparation was cooked in its own natural container, which served as pot or casserole. Fish were sometimes cooked in coconut containers.
A coconut shell cup (ipu) used as a drinking cup for water was made by cutting off the base end of the mature husked shell. Coconut fluid was drunk directly from the opened green nut.
A water vessel (ohonu) was provided by the larger mature nut, the eye hole being punctured and the flesh rotted out with sea water.page 87
Figure 19. Wooden bowls (kumete). a, large elliptical bowl with handles (1, 2) and flat rim (3) which widens out at ends, surface on same plane as upper surface of handles; left handle (1) grooved on upper surface to serve as spout for pouring off liquids. b, smaller elliptical bowl with end handles (1, 1) projecting outward and no groove; flat rim; convex outer surface (3); bottom (4) flat without legs. c, bowl apparently elliptical, handle (1) appears to project upward from rim instead of outward; four-sided legs (2); carving (3) of lozenges cut out of wood and narrow raised borders between contiguous lozenges on outer surface; diameter, 11.25 inches; height, 4.5 inches. d, oval bowl, handle (1) projects upward from wide end and narrow end (2) has groove cut below rim surface to form spout; no legs; length, 14.5 inches; width, 11 inches; height, 4.5 inches. e, flat elliptical bowl, handles (1, 2) project outward, left handle (1) formed of double projection; length, 20 inches; width, 10.25 inches; height, 3 inches. (Bowls c-e in British Museum, after Edge-Partington.)
Hand graters (tuai) made of pearl shell are still in everyday use, due to the extensive use of unripe coconut as food. The soft coconut flesh is better dealt with by the hand grater than by a stand grater. The hand grater (fig. 20) is shaped somewhat like a European shoe horn. The part of the shell toward the hinge forms the grip, and the part toward the free edge forms the cutting edge. The grip end may be pointed or rounded and in the long graters may include a portion of the shell hinge. The curved grating edge is sharpened by grinding down the back of the shell, and it may be plain or serrated. The women are very expert in the use of the hand grater. By altering the pressure they make the grating fine or coarse. In addition to grating coconut flesh, the implement is used to grate the edible soft husk and also the uto, absorbing organ of the coconut. (For types, see pl. 1; fig. 20.)
The stand grater (kautuai) was used to grate the mature coconut in preparing coconut cream and obtaining coconut oil. It evidently resembled the Tongarevan stand grater in which a piece of coral was lashed to a wooden limb. The Cook Islands type of stand grater with a serrated metal grating edge is now in common use.
Another form of grater was provided by a block of sharp coral (punga taratara, on the rough surface of which raw puraka was rubbed to procure the grated form necessary in a particular food preparation and takataka oil.
The rough skin from the tail of the ray fish (hiku whai) was also used as a grater. A wooden scraper was used to detach the flesh from the keys of the ripe hala (Pandanus) fruit, but no specimen was seen. The combined wringer and strainer (kainga) was made from the pounded husk of the ni mata stage of the coconut. The kainga was used in expressing the coconut cream from the grated mature nut. The sheets of the fibrous textile-like stipule (kaka) at the base of the growing coconut leaves was also used as a strainer, especially in the preparation of coconut oil.
Pounders (reru) were rendered necessary by the presence of the puraka, which was mashed in certain food preparations. The uto, though fairly soft page 89 when cooked, was also mashed in the oveke preparation. The pounder (pl. 1; fig. 21) was made of wood in the general form of a potato masher with a narrow neck and a terminal knob. The food was pounded directly in a wooden bowl without the intervention of a special pounding table (papahia) such as was used in Cook Islands. Pounders of coral were not made.
Figure 20. Pearl-shell hand graters (tuai). a, front and side views of short grater (C.2788) with pointed grip, thick hinge part of shell not used: 1, pointed grip end; 2, cutting edge, serrated but worn through use; 3, longitudinally concave front surface of nacreous inner coating of shell; 4, convex back, outer shell surface ground to remove roughness; 5, posterior grinding of cutting edge; length of grater, 4.3 inches; width at lower end, 1.3 inches; greatest thickness, slightly more than 0.1 inch. b, front and side views of long grater: 1, grip, rounded; 2, edge, smooth; 3, marked front longitudinal concavity; 5, posterior grinding; length of grater, 5.7 inches; width at lower end 1.6 inches; width at upper end, 0.7 inch; greatest thickness, 0.2 inch. c, front and side views of long grater with part of thick hinge included: 1, thick upper end; 2, serrated edge; 3, front longitudinal convexity, not marked; 5, posterior grinding of cutting edge; 6, thick hinge included because of extra length of grater, ground down on front surface; 7, point at which hinge part is 0.7 inch wide; length of grater, 6.5 inches; width at lower end, 1.4 inches; thickness of hinge, 0.4 inch; thickness of blade, 0.2 inch.
Figure 21. Pounder (reru) made of ngangie wood (C.3020), rounded, with fairly equal diameters: 1, greatest diameter at base, 2.8 inches; 2, neck, diameter, 1.2 inches; 3, knob, diameter, 2.3 inches; 4, base, flatly convex; 5, groove between knob and neck to take supporting cord by which implement may be hung up, probably modern, due to metal nails or hooks in kitchen; length of pounder, 13 inches.
Special containers for puraka were plaited from coconut leaves to hold mashed and grated preparations for consignment to the cooking oven. These raurau and pite containers are described on pages 114–118.
The coconut husker (ko) was a pointed stick driven into the ground like the common Polynesian type of husker. The short husker held between the feet by the Tongarevans was not used. As the green husk at the base of the nut in the early stages of growth was used for food, it is probable that different methods of husking nuts prevailed as in Tongareva (29, p. 117), but details were not procured.
A short piercer (ko poto) made of a sharpened piece of ngangie wood was used to pierce the ni mata nut for drinking. This was used in the plantations and obviated husking the nut. The nut was held close to the face; the piercer was driven through the mokomoko butt end of the nut. As the piercer was removed the mouth was quickly applied over the hole, for the liquid spurted out and was likely to be wasted. The method of drinking (mokomoko kiri) was not without danger. The movements had to be so quick that, with the face held close to the nut, the exact site for stabbing was judged and not seen. Sometimes judgment erred and the cheek was stabbed instead of the nut.
Climbing bandages were used to assist in ascending coconut trees to pluck the nuts. Two forms are now in use:
1. Common tari bandage. This bandage is obtained from material stripped from the leaf of young growing plants which throughout the plantations have sprung from self-grown nuts. A leaf from the outer side of the closed central leaves (rito) is torn off, and the skin from the upper surface (aro) of the midrib is peeled off from the smooth part below the first two leaflets (puwha). About six strips (tari) 3 feet long are beaten against a tree trunk, chewed, and rubbed between the hands to render them soft and pliable. The ends are tied in a reef knot to form a closed loop about 16 inches long. The band is slipped over the dorsum of each foot and gives the climber a purchase against the palm trunk as he straightens his knees and seeks a higher grip with his hands.
2.Kaha-piki bandage (kaha, sennit braid; piki, to climb). The bandage is made of a length of sennit braid wound loosely into five loops about 16 inches long when pulled taut. The braid ends are knotted together and seized for a few turns around the five strands at the knot.
The carrying pole (amo) was formed of a convenient length of coconut leaf midrib. No shaped wooden poles were seen in use.