The local diet remained much as it had in the past throughout this colonization
period, essentially creating two diets, one the locals ate and one the Europeans
ate. These changes were slowly magnified throughout this time since the technology
from the Industrial Revolution was beginning to reach the country and this strongly
affected the foods of the Europeans. Due to improved transportation and storage
methods, these Europeans had greater access to foods from Europe
and elsewhere, only encouraging the divide between the diets of the two groups.
In recent decades there have been additional changes and additions to the cuisine,
but most of these changes have affected the cities and coastal areas. Ethnic restaurants,
including Chinese and Indonesian,
are growing in popularity, especially in Port Moresby. Better technology has also
changed the local foods and how they're prepared, shipped, and stored giving
many foods a longer shelf life and giving the people greater access to a variety
of foods. Despite this, the local diet remains tied to pork, yams, rice, and local
fruits and vegetables, while the ethnic Europeans tend to rely on a more European-styled
When & Where to Eat
Most people in Papua New Guinea start the day with
coffee or tea and a small breakfast, such as cakes, pastries, fruit, or even fish
and rice. Breakfast is usually eaten at home prior to school or the workday.
Lunch was traditionally the largest meal of the day in
Papua New Guinea and for many people this is still true. For these people,
lunch is a large feast at home with family, which can last a couple hours. The foods
served for lunch tend to be local foods, including vegetables, fruits, fish or chicken,
as well as rice; soups and dessert are also common. For the people who have a more
rigid work schedule, most commonly in the cities, lunch tends to be smaller and
is eaten at work, often times consisting of the previous day's leftovers.
For those who have large lunches, dinner is the secondary meal as it tends to be
much smaller, often just consisting of leftovers from lunch. For those who eat lunch
at work dinner tends to be the largest meal of the day and can go on for hours as
many of the above mentioned foods are served. Dinners are often eaten in the home.
Breadfruit (ulu): this fruit is very common
Coconut: coconuts are used for their milk and flesh
Rice: a common base or side for many meals
Taro: taro root is prepared in numerous ways; it is one of the
main staples in the South Pacific
Yams: yams, a member of the potato family, are found in many meals
Regional Variations, Specialties, & Unique Dishes
Mumu: this dish consists of pork, yams, rice, and vegetables
Dining in Papua New Guinea is generally very relaxed
as rules are scarce, dress is usually casual, and tardiness is expected (although
business settings may be more formal). More importantly, the dining experience vastly
differs across the country as people in Port Moresby may eat in the continental
style and restaurants may appear no different than those in Europe.
On the other extreme there are people in the villages who eat with their hands,
sit on the ground, and caught their meal just hours earlier. Due to these extremes
the most important thing to remember is to follow your host.
No matter the setting, most people arrive about 10-15 minutes late and you can do
the same. If you know where you're dining prior to going out ask your hotel
or a local acquaintance what the dress is for that place; some restaurants in the
cities can be fairly formal and you should dress to match. Once there let your host
show you a seat and follow their lead. Most people belief you are a guest in their
country and they will go out of their way to cater to you and your needs. Return
this favor by trying everything served to you and graciously accepting their hospitality.
How you eat is again a question as many people eat with their hands, but in the
nicest restaurants you are expected to follow international dining etiquette, including
eating in the continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left). As
you may be overwhelmed with foods and may not like some of the foods served, it's
nice to know few people care if you eat everything or leave some food behind, but
again follow your host's lead and if eating with an ethnic Chinese be sure to
leave some food on the plate when you're finished. You may also notice that
in villages some food will be ignored; this is for the chief and his family so don't
Generally, if eating in a restaurant, the host is expected to pay for everyone present.
If you are the host do not leave a tip no matter how good the service was. This
is a request commonly made by the people of Papua New Guinea
as well as tour companies based in the country; tipping creates jealousy and is
not a healthy practice in the country and they prefer to keep it that way.
Papua New Guinea has most international brands
and drinks, especially in the larger cities. This includes juices, soft drinks,
tea, and coffee. However for a more authentic taste of the South Pacific try kava
or waild koniak. This drink (known as kava in most of the country,
but as waild koniak in others) is made from the kava plant's roots,
which are ground to release liquid, then water is added and the juice is drank.
This drink gives a very relaxing effect, yet is not considered a drug in the countries
of the South Pacific.
The most popular alcoholic beverage in Papua New Guinea
is beer, however many of these beers are imports and many of the local beers are
not worth special mention. Wine and liquors are also available in Papua New Guinea,
but again these are generally imports and are primarily found in hotels and restaurants
catered to foreigners.
The tap water is not safe to drink in Papua New Guinea,
despite what your hotel or guesthouse may say. You should entirely avoid the tap
water and items that could be made from or with the water, such as ice, fruits,