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Tourism is the winner

I t is rare that positive news from the Pacific Islands region makes it to the world stage. More often than not, it is for all the alarming reasons that the islands find themselves making global headlines. In most cases it is issues like climate change, the geopolitical machinations of the big boys of the planet in our neck of the woods and stories like the massive islands of floating plastic traversing the world’s largest ocean, the drying up of fish stocks and dastardly tales of whaling that find their way into the world media. So, positive stories from the Pacific that catch the world’s notoriously ephemeral attention spans must be celebrated around the region with gusto and pride. And Pacific Islanders and national governments must strive all the more to encourage more positive stories from our islands, villages and people.

One such big story broke last month in the People’s Republic of China. It’s an incredibly big positive story for the Pacific, the kind of which rarely breaks in the region. A new book on the cuisine of Samoa and Polynesia and an associated television show won one of the most coveted of awards. ‘Mea’ai Samoa: Recipes from the Heart of Polynesia’ and its associated television cooking show, Real Pasifik won the Gourmand Award for Best TV Chef Cookbook In The World 2013. The Gourmand Award is considered the Oscars of cookbooks.

It comes from the reputed house of Cointreau, the family that brought to the world the famous Cointreau liqueur, as well as the Cognacs Frapin and Rémy Martin. The global award was founded in 1995. The Mea’ai Samoa book written by the Pacific’s celebrated chef Robert Oliver beat 187 countries that participated in the competition. Of the 94 that were shortlisted, 61 made it to the top three. Finalists were from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. This is no mean achievement by any standards.

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