Papua New Guinea might not be renowned for its cuisine, but if you are going to eat anything here, you need to be eating mumu in Papua New Guinea.
What is mumu? In short it is a pig raised for the propose of being slaughtered for a feast. After slaughter it is cooked underground on heated stones, but there is oh so much more to mumu in Papua New Guinea than that!
The importance of pigs in Papua New Guinea
Pigs get a bit of a bum deal, supposedly one of the most intelligent species in earth they are often bright up almost as part of the family only to be killed and eaten. Sad, but hey pork is damned good.
In Papua New Guinea pigs are plentiful, but also of high value both economically and culturally. Pigs are killed as offers of peace, for weddings, deaths and even used a a currency. Want to ask a guy how much eh paid to get married? Well the price is usually in pigs and they can run up into the hundreds, obviously spending on the attractiveness of the bride!
This has led to the ritual eating of pork through the dish known as mumu, so what is mumu and how good is it?
What is mumu?
According to the internet gods mumu is a way of cooking large announce of food through PNG and the Pacific, not linked to just pork. While work is the mainstay it can be any other meat, as well as including a number of root vegetables.
In any case the dish is cooked in any earth oven with either coal, or at least in our case hot stones. It is then covered with a whole heap of stuff including herbs and the like, before being covered in banana leafs, from there you wait for it to be ready to eat.
We personally tried pork, lamb and ur was usually accompanied by Kaukau, or rather sweet potato, a staple in PNG cuisine.
How do they kill the pig for mumu?
Let me tell you a tale! I once had suckling pig in the Philippines, or lechon as it is known. I was thus required to kill said pig. This involved slitting its throat. I did it very very badly and I found it rather traumatic.
In PNG killing a pig is much worse, in essence they club its head until it dies. I have an actual video about this, but yeah honestly too brutal to share. I asked how they knew it was dead only to be told “it stops moving”. Not for the faint hearted.
To read about lichen click here.
How does mumu taste?
The pigs at least in my experience tend to be of the more wild variety, this gives the pork a smoky gamey taste, something I am a big fan of. What they do not do though is add sauce or anything of the like. This led my Italian friend to compare it bot very favourably with Italian cuisine. They do though offer it with salt, the people of PNG love a bit of salt!
And it is accompanied by the aforementioned Kaukau, or sweet potato of the PNG variety, which is very starchy and extremely filling. I found our group to be mixed on its virtues, but to me at least the whole mumu and sweet potato thing was well worth the effort.
So eating mumu in Papua New Guinea is very much a thing and certainly something that is an essential part of traveling to Papua New Guinea.
Want to try mumu? Then check out our next tour to Papua New Guinea.