A girl with a harvest of kullafila leaves. Like in most traditional Asian cultures it was customary to send children to look for food. Kullafila (Launaea sarmentosa) grows in sandy terrain and is one of the most valued traditional greens in Maldivian cuisine. Fua Mulaku, 1977. All photos: Nils Finn Munch-Petersen
A girl with a harvest of kullafila leaves. Like in most traditional Asian cultures it was customary to send children to look for food. Kullafila (Launaea sarmentosa) grows in sandy terrain and is one of the most valued traditional greens in Maldivian cuisine. Fua Mulaku, 1977. All photos: Nils Finn Munch-Petersen

Eating on the islands

As times have changed, so has the Maldives’ unique cuisine and culture

(This is an essay from our April 2013 print quarterly 'Farms, Feasts, Famines'. See more from the issue here.)

The Maldives has transformed somewhat in the last couple of decades. A few years ago while I was living in India, I met my friend Ahmed Nasim from the village of Funad on Fua Mulaku, a large and lonely island located far south of the Maldivian atoll chain. We had not seen each other for almost 20 years, and Nasim was eager to tell me about the changes that had occurred since the end of my 13 years in the Maldives: a harbour had been built on Fua Mulaku, and there were now paved roads. There was even an airport under construction.

Nasim and I shared good memories; he had often entertained me with local horror stories in the long, quiet Fua Mulaku evenings. I vividly recall the soft, warm light of oil lamps and the tranquility of his home, the two of us sitting on the large swing and his children playing or sleeping close to us.

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