Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'iga's Icecream


His life reads like a Hollywood movie. Born in 1882, I'iga Pisa was a feisty matai (chief) who rose in prominence to become Lauaki Namulau'ulu's right hand man. The two matai travelled around Samoa gathering support for their cause, and Lauaki even sent I'iga to American Samoa to garner support for the Mau a Pule (Independence Movement). When the Mau leaders were banished to Saipan in 1909, I'iga was among their number.


From there, I'iga's life takes on a Rambo-like turn because when Saipan fell into Japanese hands, the Samoans hatched an escape plan. They carved out paopao (canoe) and I'iga was chosen to paddle the 124 miles (200 km) from Saipan to Guam


The islands that I'iga navigated:
124 miles (200 km)


Along the way, he was pursued by Japanese troops but he hid in the Aguijan Islands until he could continue his journey. Then I'iga crashed into Rota Island, quite literally, and suffered numerous injuries from his landing. He was nursed back to health by the locals, who also hid him from the Japanese authorities, and as soon as he could, I'iga set out again to complete his mission. 


I'iga successfully reached Guam and it is rumoured that a German cartographer called the strait between Rota and Guam 'I'iga's Pass' or 'I'iga's Strait' because of the magnificent feat that our countryman achieved. But I haven't seen any evidence of this (yes, I can read German). The only sign that our people were anywhere near Saipan is a bridge called 'Samoa Bridge' which still exists today.


Back to I'iga - he reached Guam and picked up a job working for the US Navy. He brushed up on his English (he had been learning German while in exile) and eventually wound up in Hawai'i. I'iga returned to Samoa to serve in several high-ranking government positions, even contributing to the Constitutional Convention of 1954.


When the Samoan flag was raised on the first day of independence,1 January, 1962, I'iga Pisa was the only one of the exiled matai (chiefs) that attended, for he was the only one that had survived.


And what a survivor he was!


I can't imagine doing half of what this historical great has done, and only hope that one day someone writes the screenplay for I'iga's Spielberg-worthy life.


To celebrate the colourful adventures of this Independence hero, I offer I'iga's Icecream.






I'iga's Icecream
(serves 4)
2 cans coconut milk
2/3 cup cocoa 
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
tiny pinch of salt


Pour all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into an ice-cream machine or, if you don't have one (I don't), pour the mixture into a large ziplock bag and make the ice-cream Harold McGee's way. The result is a perfectly luscious, smooth, cool treat.


Serve with fruit salad.

10 comments:

  1. What a Great blog! I wanted to ask where did you find the picture?

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  2. Good question, but unfortunately one I can't answer. I downloaded this eons ago when doing research for a book, but then Endnote crapped out on me so I lost the link to the original source. If you have any info, please let me know.

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  3. I haven't been as quick to catch up on your blog lately and when I come back and read this I was just ecstatic! Shared it with my family too, as I know they'd be happy to see it because we too are I'iga! I remember my Uncle telling me this story. I love to see the history and the food together - that's how we pass it on. I still have to make the ice cream :) God bless

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    1. Hi Tiffany, thank you so much for your comment. Your ancestor was just an amazing man and I really want more people to know his story. If you or any of your family members have any details to add, please let me know, because his story truly fascinates me.

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  4. Do you have a reference for your information?

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    1. If you want corroboration of the information I've given, please contact I'iga relatives (above).

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    2. Thank you, I was inquiring for Assignment purposes, was just checking the corroboration :)

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  5. I've just found your blog & I love it!!! I am part of an social international dining club & have decided to do a Samoan menu, makes a nice change from everyone else veering towards European. Wish I could make everything on your blog!!! How to choose!?

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    1. Hi Natasha, may a recommend a menu. Us Samoans love sapasui (chop suey) with a side of coconut cream slathered taro, or rice if you can't find the taro, BBQ chicken, and a salad of chilled oka (raw fish salad). For dessert, you're spoilt for choice. Please enjoy Samoan food and I hope your dining club enjoys it as much as we do.

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  6. Just out of curiosity. How are you related to I'iga Pisa Tiffany?

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