Norfolk Island is neat as a pin. Wandering cattle keep much of the grass in check as do the local community who seem to be constantly weeding, trimming and manicuring their island paradise. Try as they might though, the locals just can’t tame everything. With balmy temperatures and help from the parrots and roaming wild chickens, fruiting trees have spread from one end of the island to the other. Bush lemons are prevalent, a legacy of the first and second convict settlements and subsequent commercial cultivation in the early 20th Century. A visit to any of the reserves or parks provides an opportunity to pick a fresh lemon to enjoy with the local fish’n’chips.
When we were visiting, guavas were fruiting all along the roadside, just begging to be picked as we meandered along. Both the bigger yellow guava and the cherry guava were in abundance. These are also an import from times gone by. This is most likely from when the First Fleet collected seeds in Rio De Janeiro as they swung past South America on their maiden voyage. Guavas arrived on the island in the early 1790’s. In the local Norf’k Lanengwij, they are known as ‘Porpeih’ and are a made into popular Porpeih Jeli (Guava Jelly) which can be found on roadside stalls, all over the island.
After being deprived of my fruit ration for a few days, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some. A visit down to Ball’s Bay provided a perfect opportunity with a whole grove of wild cherry guavas on the edge of the local reserve. Sweet and fragrant, I plucked the first guava from a branch and popped it straight into my mouth. What made it doubly sweet was the fact that there is no fruit fly on NI so there was no risk of the guavas being fly blown or containing grubs. Manna from heaven. After a substantial feed, we restrained ourselves long enough to collect a hat full to take back to our apartment. The next day we sought out yellow guavas to add to the fruit basket.
Perfect with cheese as well as stewed and enjoyed for dessert with long life cream (no fresh dairy on NI), this foraging expedition will live long in our memories.
Postscript: This post won the Food Blogger’s Australia writing competition for ‘Best Food/Travel Narrative’ in 2014