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The Tama'ara'a (Tahitian)

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Category: Seafood

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The tama'ara'a comes of course after the ahima'a. It is the meal at
which one eats what has been cooked in the ahima'a, together with the
traditional raw fish, raw and cooked freshwater shrimps, raw and
cooked crayfish, the mao'a [turbot] and the pahua taioro [clam
marinated in juice of grated coconuts, seawater and shrimps], the
mao'a or pahua with re'a [ginger], the miti [salt] hue [calabash],
the miti ha'ari [coconut or coconut milk], the popoi [manioca or
breadfruit paste], and of course the famous fafaru [fish marinated in
seawater], the smell of which is always a little shocking to an
outsider. The usual drinks are beer, punch, red wine and water. Both
for the preparations of the ahima'a and for serving the tama'ara'a,
the Tahitians use traditional bowls, the 'umete made of wood. Some are
beautifully decorated and are used to prepare the po'e [starch and
stewed fruit preserve], the marinated raw fish, etc...

Other kitchen utensils are; the penu or pestle, made in stone or
coral; the hue or calabash, used to keep the mite hue or fafaru; the
'ana or coconut scraper++though nowadays metal-pointed scrapers have
replaced the traditional coral instrument, now only found in
old-fashioned households.

The tama'ara'a is not just a meal. It has all the characteristics of
a feast in the country and no effort is spared to make the table and
the surroundings as colorful as possible, with plants, fruits and

Each guest is received with great attention and is crowned with
flowers; the tiare tahiti, the tipanie, the fara [pandanus]. On the
ground or on a table covered with banana leaves (green ni'au [coconut
palms]) the crockery is laid out; 'umete, hue, bamboo cups, green
coconuts and split emptied coconut shells. Tradition demands that
the ma'a [food] tahiti be eaten with the fingers and therefore no
cutlery is laid out.

A tama'ara'a is always a happy occasion. The family meets, friends
come together, and everyone is gay. There is music of course,
because in Polynesia a meal starts and ends with singing. A small
orchestra is improvised (all Tahitians are amateur musicians) with
guitars, ukelele and bass. (This bass is a unique instrument; it is
built with a 20 litre oil-drum, a broomstick an a string tying one to
the other, and the sounds are obtained by plucking the string.)
Punch, beer and red wine contribute to the gaiety.

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