the cultures of the south pacific by their breads.
In French Polynesia the predominate bread was he baguette. They were
cheap, very cheap and in every store and gas station. They were,
however, more like the Safeway style of baguette than a true French
version. The crust was lighter than the ones I had in France and they
turned soft quickly in the humidity. The crumb was very light and fluffy
without a lot of substance to it.
In Aitutaki we were told to go to a bakery up on the hill above town for
freshly baked bread. The bread was baked in loaves that were made of
fingers. You ordered by the number of fingers you wanted. A whole loaf
was 5 fingers. They were baking it right in front of us in a clay oven
with a wood fire. The loaves were given to us still warm. The crumb was
light and fluffy without much of a yeast taste. The wood fire gave them
a distinct taste.
In Tonga the predominant bread was a light fluffy square loaf. It was
sold everywhere un-sliced. The special brown bread had perhaps 10% whole
wheat flour. These didn’t keep well and turned moldy after just a couple
of days. However, there was another bakery in town run by an Austrian.
His baguettes were the real thing: yeasty, with a very crunchy crust;
perfectly baked, not quite as dark as the French make them. They kept
for days on the boat and kept their crust well. The crumb was denser
than the ones in French Polynesia. My favorite bread so far.
Fiji had several outlets of “Hot Bread Kitchen” in town. The smell of
baking bread wafted through the air as you walked by them. Their version
of bread is a shorter, white, fluffy bread with a sweeter taste. Not
quite as sweet as the Hawaiian bread, but still sweet. The crumb is
denser than other white fluffy breads we’ve sampled, but not dense
enough to make good sandwich bread.
We’re making good time out of Fiji. The wind is good and the seas a
little rough. If the winds keep up we’ll be in New Caledonia in four
days. That would be great.