The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Nine — Food in Micronesia, by James Merle

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Nine — Food in Micronesia, by James Merle

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If you ask Chuukese what their favorite foods are, they will say
“local food.”

Around the island there are dozens of small stands or markets that
sell freshly picked bananas, limes, cucumbers, eggplant, coconuts,
mangoes, breadfruit, local beans, and  papayas (to name a few), and
freshly caught reef fish, tuna, and lobster. Since coconuts are 50
cents, I often grab a few in the morning before school to drink during
the day.

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The fish markets are located along the ocean in the downtown area.
The fish are kept in large coolers filled with ice. The stalls have
sometimes three or four coolers with different types of beautiful and
colorful “iik enoch” or ‘fish of the reef’ in them. Reef fish are
smaller fish caught in the lagoon.  The Chuukese word for Tuna is
“angarap,” and I have grown accustomed to eating sashimi, or raw fish.
Another interesting anecdote,  the Chuukese love to barbique fish, and
their word for barbique is “parpikiu.”

In order for one to eat fish here, one must know how to fillet a
fish. This can sometimes be a dirty process, but the payoff makes it
worth the hastle.

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In addition to the markets, there are several grocery stores that
sell just about the same things as stores in the United States, though
products from the United States are far more expensive: a box of
cereal is 7 dollars, and instant coffee is 9 dollars for a medium
sized jar. Stores are structured the same, and everyone uses the
American dollar.

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There are five “restaurants” on the island that have similar food and
prices to restaurants in the United States, but you can buy a small
container of prepared food for $1.50 from some of the markets. These
usually consist of a small turkey leg or turkey tail, rice, and a
hotdog. One shop that I particularly like sells these meat and
vegetable pies called asado rolls.

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In Chuukese culture, some people borrow eating customs from the
Japanese, since the Japanese once occupied the are prior to World War
II. Chuukese generally eat with their hands, and they have a specific
order that family members are allowed to serve themselves food.
Sometimes the oldest man of the house eats first, sometimes the
youngest. The women prepare the meals, and clean up after.

For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.


Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

9 responses to “The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Nine — Food in Micronesia, by James Merle

  1. Kirsten Olsen

    I love to learn about foods that different countries prepare and I find it interesting that their is an order to who eats first in each household. I also find it interesting to learn about the influences that other countries have over a small period of time. The fact that the Chinese influenced the people of Micronesia in the way that they eat their food amazes me. Things like this happen all the time all around the world but I find it crazy to see that influences stay true all the way until today.

  2. Morgan Schmitz

    I think it is interesting to see the different food that cultures eat according to different lifestyles. I also think it is interesting to see the differences and similarities between foods. It is cool how other occupying cultures have an effect on the foods that we eat today.

  3. Tommy Traaholt

    I like how the main food of a culture has a lot to do with their location, as in this case they are right on an ocean and they have lots of sea food. I really enjoy learning about food and how it is prepared. I thought it was interesting when you talked about how they eat mainly with their hands. That is a very different lifestyle apart from living in America. Overall great article!

  4. daniela rojas

    It is always interesting to learn about different cultures and their traditions. It was nice to see how they are still influenced by other cultures, and they still have their own type of cooking. Also it was interesting the order in which they eat. I had never thought about that.

  5. Ashley Svihel

    I liked learning about the different names for different foods and the barbecue. It is fascinating how different cultures prepare food and eat them. Thanks for sharing, I liked the pictures as well.

  6. Matt Breeze

    Talk about local food! The idea of having to be able to fillet a fish to be able to eat it is so cool to me. I myself clean and fillet lots of fish, but if I went and bought one I would not think that it would be required to be able to clean it to eat it. I think it is odd that the American dollar is the currency. Do you have any idea why that is? The cultural influence of the Japanese on eating and food style is also cool.

  7. Alicia Tipcke

    Food is such a major facet of many cultures around the world. Learning what people from different countries and cultures eats allows us to get a glimpse of certain values and customs that are important. In coastal towns often fishing is not only a way of life, but a right of passage. The elder eating first may be a sign of respect, while the youngest eating first could mean support for growing families. The pictures were wonderful to see and a great addition to the piece!

  8. Ashley Kittelson

    One thing I notice in this article is that fresh food tends to be cheap, such as the coconut costing only fifty cents. However, imported processed food tends to be more expensive. This is opposite of typical U.S. grocery stores where processed foods are readily available. I wonder what contributes to this difference. Certainly, transportation costs are a factor. I also wonder if people in Micronesia desire processed food as much as in the U.S., or if fresh food is more highly valued. I also found the pictures of the fresh fruit to be mouthwatering, but the dead fish looked unappetizing. In the U.S., we have a tendency to distance the meat we eat from the animal it came from. Consider fish strips, hamburgers, and hot dogs that require much less preparation and resemblance to an animal. This is a stark contrast to the fresh fish pictured in the article and the preparation to prepare it that’s described.

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