Eating in Papua New Guinea

By | June 20, 2021

The kitchen is very simple

The cuisine of the South Seas, to which Papua New Guinea also belongs, is not very varied and, above all, not particularly rich in ideas. Spices are usually missing. The main thing is to get full and not spend a lot or no money on it.

That is why many families also eat vegetables or fruit, and what the garden has to offer is exactly what is served on the table. Pineapples, papayas, mangoes, passion fruits and bananas are types of fruit that can be harvested there and then processed straight away.

Whoever harvests more than he can use sells the products on the market or barter them. By the way, pigs are an important trade item.

Earth furnace

A deep hole is dug in the earth for an earth furnace. In order to achieve a suitable temperature, hot stones are placed in it. The ingredients are layered on top of each other, this can be vegetables, but also meat or even a whole pig. Since the temperatures are not very high, it will take a few hours for the dish to be ready. But it is then carefully prepared and something very special due to this type of preparation.

Cooking in the earth oven takes time

Yams, sago or sweet potatoes are an important part of the kitchen. Meat is only served once a week, if at all, and then most likely poultry or fatty pork. This is also often prepared in the earth oven, which is popular on many South Sea islands. But cooking in such an oven often takes hours. That is why the stove is not used in normal everyday life, but often only on festive occasions.

A traditional dish in Papua New Guinea is called mumu and consists of pork, sweet potatoes, rice and leafy vegetables and is prepared in this earth oven.

Ants are also on the menu

In Papua New Guinea, ants are very popular, sometimes raw, but also cooked. In the country in particular, it is a highly valued and healthy food. Those who live by the sea have the advantage of having the fish on the table almost fresh from the sea. Mussels, which children collect on the beach and which are then prepared as family meals, are also popular. Bats or snakes also end up on the plate, because there is not too much choice of meat in Papua New Guinea. For this reason, people like to fall back on what lives on the island.


Many people drink coffee in Papua New Guinea because coffee beans are harvested and processed on site.

Eating in Papua New Guinea

Urban and Countryside

Escape to the city

Even if most of the people in Papua New Guinea live in the mountains of the country, more and more people are drawn to the cities. The main attraction is the capital Port Moresby. Here they meet modern life in the big city. You can even find shopping centers here.

Car traffic, roads, noise, the internet, skyscrapers, rubbish and, above all, the obligation to look after yourself are all here too. For the self-sufficient it is often a completely different world, many have not attended school or completed any training. These people often end up in the slums on the outskirts with all their social problems like poverty, disease and death.

The new prosperity does not reach most of them. 50 out of 100 live in the city’s slums.

What about the children?

Many children live with their parents in the capital’s slums. But they are often left alone, have no protection, have nothing to eat, and certainly no education. Papua New Guinea has one of the highest proportions of children in the world who have to work to survive. In the country they are often isolated and in the city they have no money.

This drives many children into prostitution. Or they do dangerous work on the street or sell drugs. Often these children are only twelve years old or even younger. They often give the money they earn on the street to their parents.

Festivals and Celebrations

Few countries in the world have such great contrasts as Papua New Guinea, a country in Oceania defined by indexdotcom. While modernity with all its consequences is moving into the coastal cities, some of the people in the highlands live like in the Stone Age.

A testimony to these millennia-old traditions are the dance and singing festivals that take place all over Papua New Guinea. The struggle of the tribes is often re-enacted here, but it is always non-violent. But one can imagine how the warriors of the tribes fought against each other in earlier times.
This is what happens once a year in Goroka hosted a large dance festival attended by 90 peoples. 40,000 people dress traditionally and dance. And not only that, they show their traditions, sing and drum in competition. For this purpose, the bodies are artistically painted and decorated. Everything that nature has to offer can be used for jewelry.

Everyone is colorful, like the bird of paradise, which is also the heraldic animal of Papua New Guinea. The original festivals are now often only shown to tourists.