Every big celebration always includes some kind of feast - and we’re not talking a light snack here. So much love and preparation goes into traditional Samoan food and eating together with extended family is one of the greatest joys of village life, especially on a Sunday after church. If you want a true Samoan experience, make sure you eat like the locals do, at least a couple of times during your stay.
Discovering the tropical flavours of this Pacific paradise during your holiday is as easy as ordering from the menu at your restaurant or cafe of choice.
Surrounded by water, seafood and fish are fresh and plentiful in Samoa. If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll be as happy as clam (pun intended) with the amazing range - from yellowfin tuna to octopus to crayfish to everything in between. You’ll see Oka everywhere on menus and it would be criminal to visit Samoa without trying this delicious dish of freshly caught raw fish cut into chunks, mixed with coconut cream, freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped onion and tomato. If you want to see how locals buy their fish - if they haven’t caught it themselves - check out the Apia Fish Market for fresh seafood and a peek into everyday local life.
Don’t leave Samoa without trying food cooked in an umu - the cornerstone of Samoan cuisine. Traditionally, an umu (an above-ground oven of hot volcanic stones) is laid three times a day to cook the family meals, a custom that you will still see in many villages today. Slathered in freshly made coconut cream, umu-cooked food (usually fish, other seafood, pork, chicken, lamb, taro, bananas and other vegetables) is infused with beautiful, smokey flavours from the style of cooking. The stones are heated in a fire before the food is placed on top, wrapped in banana leaves or coconut fronds, or put into half coconuts. More banana leaves cover the top to seal the 'oven'. The umu is lifted after about two hours and served immediately. If you stay in a fale owned by a village you may be invited to eat this style of food, if not many hotels and resorts offer umu buffets at weekly fiafia nights. It’s a must eat.
Ever wanted to cook your own umu feast? Follow our handy tips to get started...
If really understanding authentic Samoan food is on your agenda, you can’t miss a visit to the Apia markets. You’ll find amazing, juicy luscious fruit - think mango, star fruit, guava, bananas, tropical avocados and fresh cocoa (by the pod). You have to try the local drink Koko-Samoa a pure, semi-refined cocoa that is grated and dissolved in hot water or milk, then sweetened with sugar - with a coconut or jam filled donut on the side, of course. The locals love Samoan pork buns, sapasui, baked breadfruit, taro, palusami and yams and you can happily enjoy all of this right alongside them for the full Samoan experience, or take your treats back to your accommodation to enjoy later.
People are often surprised to find that there are a lot of upscale dining options in the more populated areas of Samoa. Talented chefs have a bounty of incredible produce right on their doorstep and find so many creative ways to cook it. There are also plenty of options from other international cuisines available too. One thing is for sure. You will never go hungry in Samoa.
Whet your tastebuds and savour Samoan food experiences in our Foodies Guide to Samoa.