Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Telesa - The Covenant Keeper

She's the tireless blogger of Sleepless in Samoa. Mother of five, born and bred in Samoa, she's the author of Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi about the tsunami that devastated Samoa in 2009. She's written short fiction that has been widely published in various journals, magazines, newspapers and professionally recorded for radio broadcast in over 30 countries. Her versatility also extends to children's stories that are used in primary school reading programs. I loved, loved, LOVED her short story entitled A True Samoan Woman. She's here today to promote her most recent work, the first in a young adult urban fantasy series, called Telesa - The Covenant Keeper. 
It is my honour to welcome to our virtual kitchen the award winning author, Lani Wendt Young!

I feel  like I’m in the presence of a rock star – because that’s how I think of the amazing owner of Panipopo’s Kitchen. I am constantly in awe of her recipes and every time I leave her blog – I am inspired to try cooking something new in my own kitchen. (Doesn’t always work like her cooking does though.) Thank you for welcoming me into your kitchen today.

The first thing my copy editor said to me after she read the TELESA manuscript was – ‘reading this made me soooo hungry! The rich descriptions of all the yummy Samoan food in the book really made me wish that I was taking a trip to Samoa, just so that I could try some of the delicious things that Leila was having.’

I love to eat and I enjoy cooking so it’s no wonder that a lot of food found its way into the TELESA book. Eighteen yr old Leila has come to Samoa from America in search of her ‘roots’, her culture, her family. Raised by her Dad and used to living on junk food, Leila is introduced to a delectable array of Samoan delights, everything from crisp, sweet panikeke with sinfully rich and sweet kokoSamoa for breakfast - to faiai fe’e octopus baked in coconut cream, oka raw fish soaked in lime and coconut chilled to perfection, chop suey redolent with garlic and ginger. And the desserts! Leila’s Aunty Matile makes a pineapple pie with a crust that melts in your mouth, sticky sweet caramel faausi dumplings and pani popo coconut buns luxuriating in a sugar-laden coconut cream sauce.

One of the best things about food in Samoa – is that so many of the ingredients are fresh and sourced right from out the back door. The best fruit salad I will ever eat is one made from papaya and mangoes that my children have picked from trees in our yard, ripe bananas we ‘borrowed’ from that bunch hanging over our neighbor’s fence, and pineapple bought from the produce market at Fugalei.  In my book the Telesa are a kind of ‘environmental warrior’, closely in tune with the earth and all her bounty – which means they have a gift with plants and draw on a rich treasure of ancient knowledge to make medicines, poisons ( they are telesa after all!) AND food, glorious food. 

Telesa - The Covenant Keeper  is the first book in a Young Adult fantasy romance series set in modern day Samoa that draws on the legends of teine Sa but with a huge amount of creative license and imagination. It’s got action, intrigue, elements of the supernatural and (of course) it’s got romance with a gorgeous male lead character, Daniel… And woven into all that, is lots of food!


  1. Gosh, reading that post just made me hungry! Like Lani, I always feel inspired to bake, cook something after reading Panipopo's blog. Great books and great recipes and food from the both of you : )

  2. Malo fa'afetai! Great to know I'm not just inspiring people to eat...

  3. If you are living on Oahu, can buy Lani's Galu Afi book at the Cackle Fresh Egg outlet store near Hukilau beach at Laie.

  4. Holy smokes, I can't say enough how much I LOVE this book!! I read it a few months ago and it was/is awesome. It's a must read for everybody!!