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Home / Newsletter / Umu – the Polynesian Curanto

Umu – the Polynesian Curanto

It’s a convivial event when the typical Easter Island dish – umu – is cooked for several hours in an earth oven, during which time the Rapa Nui come together to make new friends and share the latest news before digging in to the meal.

For this typical Polynesian cooking method, first a hole is dug. It then filled with wood billets and volcanic stones are stacked over them. Then the wood is lit, and the stones are slowly heated. Banana leaves are later placed over the hot stones and serve as a base for the ingredients: different types of fish and meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yucca, and fruits. The mix of the ingredients cooks for six hours in the earth.
Chilean experts will find this dish reminiscent of curanto, especially that prepared in Chiloé. Some anthropologists suggest that the Polynesians, to whom the Rapa Nui ethnologically belong, brought this form of cooking to the Chilean mainland. Participating in the preparation of an umu dish is a joyful way to immerse oneself in the still-alive traditional culture of Rapa Nui.

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