Sunday, May 27, 2012

A special email, the significance of 1 June, and Cocoa Banana Muffins

I love getting feedback from you guys. I read everything that you send me and do my best to reply to every communication. Last week, not long after I posted the piece about I'iga Pisa, I received this wonderful email from SwissHamo:

Dear Ms Panipopo,
Malo le soifua!  My name is _____ and I'm an avid follower of your site.  I just read your latest blog and it touched me very deeply and personally.  ...  Are you by any chance related to him [I'iga Pisa]?  If so, then we are most likely related too - he is my great-grandfather and his last living child is my grandmother who will turn 92 next month.  When I read your blog, I was in shock really.  His story is known within my family, but it's not one that many people (at least I don't think) know around Samoa.  I don't know why that is, but it is what it is.  So to see it on your blog was just... heartwarming.  
Faafetai tele lava ma ia faamanuia le Atua i au galuega ma feau.
Ma le faaaloalo lava,
For those of you wondering, I am not, as far as I know, related to anyone who changed the course of Samoan history. Not like SwissHamo, who can trace her roots back to two of leaders of Samoan Independence (Lauaki and I'iga were relatives), and even further back, is directly related to the Tongan Royal Family. Thanks for writing to me, SH. It brought the past to the present, breathing life into the history that I find so rich and inspiring.

History tidbit for today: The first Samoan Independence Day was not celebrated in June but on 1 January, 1962. The reason its celebrated now on 1 June is because that was the original Samoan Flag Day back in 1948, a day which marked Samoa's official transition to independence from colonisation/trusteeship and the same day that Samoa's national anthem was revealed. 

If you ever wondered what it was like, that first Independence Day, check out this video from 4:48 onwards. 

Also check out the rest of the Samoan videos from archivesnz Youtube channel. It's awesome to see black and white footage from Samoa and the way life was 50 and more years ago. I also really enjoy listening to the background songs and chants. So nostalgic! The only other thing I noticed, that I already knew somewhere in the back of my mind, is that Samoans are a pretty damned fine-looking race. 

The following recipe has nothing to do with anything, eg. not a Samoan recipe, but I make these so often I just had to share. The recipe comes from a fabulous collection of muffin recipes by Camilla Saulsbury called 750 Best Muffin Recipes. Once the bananas are mashed, these are super-quick to throw together. Whether you make them with or without the chocolate chips, the muffins stay moist and flavourful for up to three days after you've baked them.

Cocoa Banana Muffins
(makes 12)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, egg, bananas and oil. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Gently fold in chocolate chips if you are using them.

Fill the paper liners evenly with the batter (should be 3/4 full). Bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in pan for 3 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool. 


  1. How unique!! I thoroughly enjoyed the history of your last post. It was delightful to read a part of history not taught today. I can only imagine how thrilled a relative would be reading about their relative and it gaining the recognition he so deserves. Please keep them coming!!

    1. Thanks for your comment evotia. I love writing about this history as much as I love reading it.