Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/116

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oil, and is so exceedingly rich that few people can eat much of it. However, it is really very good—at least some preparations are. The puddings are so very oily that each portion is tied up separately in a strip of silky young banana-leaf, heated over the fire to make it oil-proof.

In addition to these Samoan dainties, every lady had sent a contribution of pastry, salad, or other good things; and the excellent chef of the Seignelay had done his part admirably, as usual. Nor had that hospitable vessel neglected to send ample remembrance from the vineyards of France, though the correct drink in the South Seas is the inevitable cocoa-nut water,—and an excellent one it is, cool and refreshing, provided the nut has just been gathered. No matter how burning the sun in which it hangs, it is always cool when newly severed from beneath the crown of shady leaves; but after a while it becomes slightly warm and mawkish in taste, so a true connoisseur requires his nuts to be plucked at the last moment. Then some ingenious native splits the thick outer husk by striking it on a sharp upright stick, and tears it all off, except a small green stand like an inverted bowl, which supports the nut, so that you need not empty it till you feel inclined. Then he cuts off the top of the nut, which is lined with the thinnest coating of white jelly. This is the pulp just beginning to form, and in this ivory-lined cup you find about two pints of clear sweetish water. When a row of nuts thus prepared are placed for every guest at such a banquet as this, they suggest a row of brownish-yellow ostrich-eggs, mounted in pale-green enamel!

An excellent dish, which I would introduce at home were it possible, consists of young taro leaves, stewed in the rich oily cream of cocoa-nut kernel, mixed with salt water, which is the only substitute for salt. Hence cocoa-nut shells containing sea-water are placed beside each guest, that he may therein dip his food to give it a relish. To have done quite the correct thing, our roast sucking-pigs should have been carved with a piece of split bamboo; but I fear that in this matter we were guilty of innovation, though we quite decided that bits of green banana-leaf were the nicest possible plates.