An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Flaps: A Not So Meaty Matter

Ahh lamb flaps. PNG's meat of choice. I promised I would discuss this and I don't go back on promises. Besides I have a good opportunity at the moment as I am being thrown this stuff to eat on a regular basis.

With this registration going on at the moment we have been getting a free feed (well the department pays) from the university Kopi Haus (coffee house). They don't do coffee - well you might get a cracked mug, a packet of instant and some hot water - but they do lunch boxes. Hence the following picture.

My lunch yesterday: delightful

A lovely meal of lamb flaps, thick gravy, the odd veg - either a bit of carrot and broccoli - all on a base of rice. Lamb flaps and rice stew.

Now at this point most people are now asking "what the hell are lamb flaps?". A valid question. I had never heard of this before coming to PNG either. The reason of course is that you would be hard pressed to buy them in Australia or any other westernised country as most people realise that they are just mainly fat. In fact judging from looking at them I think they are more than 50% fat, though probably average around the 30% mark.

It seems New Zealand is to blame (it's great to blame them for something). They have been dumping their mutton scraps on to countries that are too poor to refuse. You see the term lamb flaps is also a bit of a misnomer. The majority of the meat is actually mutton.

Of course NZ don't like being seen in this light, and have hit back. "Cook Lamb Flaps right and they're choice" says Meat New Zealand. Yeah, spend an hour trimming off all the fat. As if the local villager is going to do that. Chop it up, chuck it in the pot and gobble it down later, is more like it. Also how can Meat New Zealand be taken seriously by saying "choice" at the end of a statement?

Anyway, because they are so cheap, they have managed to become the favourite red meat added to meals. Not exactly sure of the price for a packet of five or so lamb flaps - not much of an investigative reporter am I - but I do know you can buy a big 20 kilo box of frozen lamb flaps for around K120. Making it around K6 (or AU$2.50) a kilo, cheap meat as I said. It is not uncommon to see people wandering around or hoping onto buses with a whole or sawn in half box of flaps perched on one shoulder.

As to what all this is doing to the population? Well you would be hard pressed to see any obese people here as of yet, the economic situation is a big reason for that and it is probably not in their genetic makeup like the Polynesians, but if they are banning it in other countries surely that is saying something. The people with money here - including some of my university colleagues - and are overweight do have various health issues that are only occurring because of a change of diet. Diabetes is on the increase and gout is quite a common complaint.

As to actually eating them. Well you have to have a strategy and good observation to make sure you are not swallowing chucks of fat. A sharp knife will help to slice away most of the gristle, or pick out the best cuts of meat and throw the rest of the sheep to a waiting dog.

Today my lunch was roast chicken and sweet potato chips. Better.