by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Karkar Island is situated north of Madang Province, and consists of two different tribes: the Waskia and the Takia.
These two tribes, comprising of smaller villages, make up the population of Karkar Island.
The great grand ancestors of the Takia people are believed to be skilled hunters, but were also largely subsistence farmers.
The population around the area in old times was smaller however, with the recent developments taking place, the population has increased to over 200, 000 people, with the Takia and Waskia being the main languages spoken in and around these areas.
‘Frong’ is a traditional dish that is special and is prepared using special extracted oil taken from the galip nut, together with a species of banana native to that area.
The practice has been passed down from their ancestors, and is still maintained today by the Takia people.
The dish is prepared on special occasions however it can also be made for any ordinary meal at any time.
The process of making the dish starts with the collecting of Galip nuts from the trees.
As the Galip tree grows everywhere on the island, it is easier to collect the nut. After collecting, the nut is removed from its shell, and crushed. A wooden pestle and mortar, made especially for smashing, crushing and mashing is used to crush the nut.
While crushing the nut, a little warm water with a little salt is added to the crushed nut. The crushing continues until oil is produced. Continuous crushing produces a good amount of oil, enough to decorate the banana. This oil is collected and set aside for the dressing of the mashed banana. This process takes half a day, to finally get the required amount of oil.
After extracting the oil, the preparation of the bananas begins.
The bananas are boiled in their skins, and once cooked; the outer covering is removed and is set into a wooden bowl which the locals call ‘kunum’. Galip oil is added into the bowl with the banana whilst the banana is mashed. The mashing is done using the same wooden pestle and mortar that is used to crush the galip nut. The banana is mashed until no solid particle is left, and becomes very soft. After mashing, it is placed into another clean bowl.
After the extracting of oil process and mashing of the banana is complete, the bowl of mashed banana is ready for dressing.
Dressing of the banana is done using the oil collected from the crushed galip nut. More oil is added onto the mashed banana until the banana is covered with oil. The final outcome is when the bowl of mashed banana is gleaming with oil.
When everything is done, the dish is ready and can be eaten. According to a source, most visitors prefer the dish when ripened bananas are used. For first timers, the dish may taste very oily, but is said to be delicious with a sweet nutty taste. It is delicious and the people of Takia enjoy preparing the dish.
This traditional has been made by decades of ancestors and is still maintained today. Most of the process of preparing the dish hasn’t changed very much except for the bowl that is used during the preparation. With modernization, the traditional bowls sometimes are replaced with bowls we use today.
The whole process of preparing Frong, takes a whole day.
*This is an article on one of Madang’s traditionally prepared dishes called ‘Frong’. This article is from the perspective of the Takia on frong, and how it is prepared as part of the locals traditional dish preparation, and as part of a cultural practice inherited from their ancestors. The galip nut itself is a staple food for the people of Karkar Island and other parts of Madang, Frong is just one dish using this nut.