Drinking Kava

New Caledonia - Posted On

Nadege writes: In Caledonia comes a tradition coming from Pacific islanders : The Kava.
I link it to our cultural coffee in France. It is also true we say “kawa” in familiar French for “Coffee”.
Both of these drinks have a social connotation to them. In fact, going for a kawa drink happen only in shops named “Nakamals”. They are recognizable with their red light on the road set on as long there is still some kava. Once there is no Kava anymore, the light is set off.
I have only had one once so far. It was a Friday night. A friend of us, willing to relax quickly next to a hard working day invited us to the nakamal “Les escaliers”.
It was 7pm but it was at night already. In a residential neighborhood of Nouméa, a red light set a dark light on the pedestrian walk. It shows a small flight of stairs on which we adventure ourselves, trusting our guide.
We arrive in a bar with a dark and calm atmosphere, people talking very quietly, only a few candles gives light to that somber spot. Vegetation around, we seem to be out of town, far in the jungle in an unknown tribute. Fifteen, maybe twenty people are here around, smoking and talking, nobody seems to drink?
We lead our way to the small bar lighted by some other candles. A young smiley man pours a strange brown water-like liquid in half-cut coconuts.
Each of us take it own, drop a little of the kava on the flour (for the ancestors), greet the others of a “Manuia” (“cheers”) and drink it at once. Some spit the last bit on the floor. Some bits of cheese and bretzel help not to feel too long the bitter-tasting of the root used to make the beverage.
Once done, we install ourselves in some comfortable chairs to take the best out of the relaxing effect. The mouth seems to anesthetize, and the mind goes for a relaxing time. Talking quietly is now the best to do, about life, about good subjects to talk about.