Making a lovo in Australia
A lovo is an underground oven in which an entire feast is cooked over hot rocks while buried in earth. It’s also called an umu in Tonga or a hangi in New Zealand. Men make the lovo, not women.
We make a lovo for a special function, maybe five times a year.
In Australia we can’t make a lovo in your back yard without permission from the local council and the Fire Prevention Officer. The ruling is if we have a small back yard you don’t make the lovo close to the fence – at least 2 metres away. It’s good manners to talk also to your neighbours because there will be smoke. Making a lovo early in the morning is a good idea.
What is needed: rocks, firewood, bags, aluminium foil,leaves e.g. gum leaves. The rocks have to be suitable, not the kind that explode. Even bricks will work.
A hole is dug about half a metre to a metre across, but it depends upon the size of the feast.
Prepare firewood and burn inside the hole for about an hour with the rocks on top. Heating the rocks well will serve as the base for the lovo.
When the rocks are sufficiently heated, the burning wood is pulled from the flames.
Meanwhile the food has been prepared, the dalo peeled, the chicken, fish, pork, probably marinaded. Each portion is wrapped separately and tightly in aluminium foil. Sometimes other delicacies such as palusami are added.
We use a wire basket and put all the food inside that. We add branches of leaves onto the rocks before putting down the wire basket and add more leaves on top. We then cover this with wet newspaper and potato bags then earth. Don’t use plastic materials. Make sure that the steam doesn’t escape.
The lovo is left to steam for three hours depending on the amount of food.
Unearth the lovo carefully, using gardening gloves if you have them, lift out the basket and the food is ready to unwrap for the feast.
The pic is making a lovo in Fiji.
Last Friday I made a lovo in our back yard for a farewell party to a visiting Fiji family.
Have any of you made a lovo in a country outside of Fiji – in Canada, USA or elsewhere?