Easter Island food
Traditional Easter Island food is based mainly on sea products like fish, among them tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish or kana kana, and seafood like lobster, shrimp and rape rape, a type of small lobster native to the island. Nevertheless, various agricultural products are a cornerstone of the food, like sweet potatoes, taro, yams, plantain, and sugarcane; all of them introduced to Easter Island from the Marquesas Islands a very long time ago.
The most traditional dish is the Umu Rapa Nui or Easter Island curanto, which is cooked in a hole in the ground with firewood and red-hot stones, the same way it was made hundreds of years ago. The hot stones are covered with plantain leaves. Then, meat, chicken, and fish is placed on the leaves and covered again with more leaves and stones. A second layer is placed on top with sweet potatoes, taro, and tapioca and is covered again with plantain leaves and dirt. The heat cooks the food in a slow and long process making the curanto a community food dish.
The families continue to prepare the curanto on special occasions and the community curanto that takes place during the Tapati is famous, in which everyone, islanders and visitors can enjoy it. For those who visit Easter Island in another time, the way to taste the curanto is to have dinner at the Te Ra’ai restaurant on the days of your show (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Te Ra’ai is the only restaurant where you can try this traditional preparation.
Another traditional dish is the Tunu Ahí, which is made with fish fresh from the ocean and is cooked seaside on hot stones.
The Po’e is used to accompany many meals including the curanto and in some cases ceviche. It’s a type of cake, made from pumpkin, flour, and plantain, that is sweet and quite spongy.
Ceviche is another dish that has become an island staple, especially the tuna ceviche. It is offered in a wide variety, especially because of the type of dressing that is used, which can go from soy sauce to coconut milk.
Finally, you can’t miss trying the traditional tuna patties (empanadas). They are fried empanadas stuffed with fresh tuna from the island, some with cheese and others also with tomato. They are juicy and quite delicious and make an ideal snack for hikers. They are easy to find in Hanga Roa and in Anakena.