During World War II the Japanese took control of the islands,
which led to fierce battles and the loss of much of the arable farmlands. This destroyed
much of the food production on the islands, but at this same time new technology
entered the islands to help make up for some of these losses. Transportation and
storage techniques allowed for foods to last longer and be transported, meaning
the smaller growth numbers were slightly balanced by the new technology that allowed
the importation of foods and longer shelf lives (although the lands were still destroyed
and people were out of jobs). The islands have since almost fully recovered from
the damages as farming is again a large and important industry.
Today the diet remains somewhat divided between the local people and the foreigners,
but today few of these foreigners are settlers; most are tourists. The local diet
remains much as it has in the past, but ethnic restaurants are now opening in Honiara,
including Chinese and European foods
as they are gaining popularity, both by foreigners as well as by some locals.
When & Where to Eat
Most people in Solomon Islands start the day with
coffee or tea and a small breakfast, such as a bread of some sort, 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 the
Solomon Islands and for some 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 and generally include vegetables, fruits,
rice, and perhaps a protein, like fish. For the people who have a more rigid work
schedule, most commonly in the larger towns, 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
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
Tapioca pudding: this dessert, whose name is self-explanatory,
is a favorite
Dining in Solomon Islands is generally very relaxed
as rules are scarce, dress is usually casual, and tardiness is expected. More importantly,
the dining experience differs greatly between dining in a village with a family
and eating in a restaurant catered to tourists. Due to these extremes the most important
thing to remember is to follow your host's lead.
Many people arrive a few minutes late (or later) so you may do the same as time
is less important than it is elsewhere. As you begin eating little fuss will be
made for mistakes, although there are a couple rules that should be followed. The
most important of these is that you will notice most people 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 and one of the areas where you will provide little
offense if done incorrectly. Many people eat with their hands, but in restaurants
you are expected to follow international dining etiquette, including eating in the
continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left). Once you are finished
eating there is also a question as to whether or not you should leave food on your
plate; generally speaking you can eat everything or leave some behind, but more
importantly you should try everything offered and don' eat more than others
dining with you.
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 Solomon Islands
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.
Celebrations & Events
There are a few foods that can typically be found at celebratory events and holidays
in Solomon Islands, including poi, tapioca,
and cassava. Poi is a very traditional food found throughout Polynesia
made from taro root and is served as a side (perhaps more accurately as a sauce-like
substance). Tapioca and cassava can also be found throughout the year, but again
tend to be present at most celebrations, both of which are served in the form of
Solomon Islands import all major international drinks
and brands so any popular drink can be found on the islands, such as juices, soft
drinks, tea, and coffee. However for a more authentic taste of the South Pacific
try kava. This drink is made from the kava plant's roots, which are
ground to release liquid, then water is added and the juice is drunk. This drink
gives a very relaxing effect, yet is not considered a drug in the countries of the
When it comes to alcoholic beverages in Solomon Islands
beer tends to dominate as the local favorite, there is even a local brewery called
"Solomon Breweries" in case you want to try the local beer. However, for
the tourists numerous types of wine and hard liquor are also available in many hotels
and nice restaurants. The locals rarely drink wine, but there is a significant hard
liquor drinking culture in the islands.
The tap water is generally not safe to drink in Solomon
Islands, although in very limited areas it might be. The most cautious course
of action is to entirely avoid the tap water and items that could be made from or
with the water, such as ice, fruits, and salads. If you do decide to drink the local
tap water first check with your hotel or guesthouse to learn the cleanliness of
the water in that area. If the water is safe, remember that many people may have
trouble adjusting to the local tap water as it will most certainly be different
from what your system is used to if you are not from the region.