Food Part 1


When we came to Goroka we really didn’t know what to expect in terms of supermarkets and food. We were pleasantly surprised by some things, but found others lacking. There are a few supermarket chains here: Papindo (3 stores in town), Goroka Food Mart (2 stores), Bintangor, and SVS. And then there’s the big market, which I’ll talk about in another post.

The big Papindo in downtown Goroka


SVS (Super Value Store)



When shopping, you basically have to hit every store – which isn’t too hard since they are all within a 2-block radius of each other. You never know what treasures you will find, and which store will have your desired item. Every store tends to have the basics – rice, flour, soap, etc – but some stores have ‘specialty’ items. For example, cheese is a hot commodity here. While Bintangor usually has cheese, it isn’t stored properly, so you really have to examine it to get the least sketchy ones. But when Papindo gets it in, it tends to be in good shape. The price is very variable as well – some weeks it’s K7 per block, others (like today) it’s as much as K30. People here tend to stock up when it’s available, especially when the price is right! I’ve found Nutella at both Papindo and Bintangor, but it’s about K10 cheaper at Bintangor. SVS has a small liquor shop in it, where you can get beer, wine, and a few hard liquors (Malibu Rum, Johnny Walker Rye, and a few others), but they tend to be pretty expensive. When it comes to the types of candy and chips that North Americans are used to, Goroka Food Mart is the only place to go. They carry M&Ms, Coke, Mike & Ike, Skittles, and Crunch & Munch! They have a cat there as well, which I think is for keeping the rat/mouse population down. The cat is quite friendly, but sadly they’ve clipped the cats whiskers as there is a belief here that clipped whiskers will keep a cat from going feral.

Goroka Food Mart

Goroka Food Mart

Recently Papindo brought in some Gluten Free flours, cake, and pancake mixes. I spent about K350 (~ $140 CAD) buying as much as possible, since no-one has ever seen it stocked before, and who knows when it will be stocked again!!

Matt and I stayed away from meat for about a month before we were brave enough to buy some. Looking at the meat, the freshness was questionable. So, as a protein source, we thought we would have some tinned corned beef, as they have Hereford brand here – the same as in Canada! We decided to fry some up. Unlike the Canadian product it turned into an unappealing mush immediately, with what looked like noodles in it… they weren’t noodles. Upon examining the tin, we discovered a sign that has now become familiar and feared: PNG MADE. While this label does not always spell doom, we’ve learned to approach these food items with caution, especially meat items. The first time we bought minced beef, we ended up throwing it out, since it smelled weird, even after it had been cooked. The second time, it still smelled a bit weird, but it smelled fine once cooked so we decided to eat it. So far so good. But you really have to examine the meat for freshness before buying! I also wouldn’t trust the fish up here, since it’s pretty hard carting things up from the coast – the roads are quite bad and often impassable.


Giant fish at big Papindo eating another fish…


We’ve found a lot of familiar things, that are just slightly different. Although Matt has yet to find a satisfactory potato chip.


Twisties – like Cheezies


Some of the interesting Soda’s we’ve tried

Rice Bubbles

Rice Krispies & Wheetabix, PNG style


Others are completely foreign, like chicken and beef flavoured crackers – Matt’s a fan of those.

Banana Ketchup

Banana Ketchup – delicious!

Chunky Bits

At first glance, refreshing iced-tea. On closer look, completely unappealing.

Rainbow Wafers

Rainbow Wafers – apparently do *not* taste like rainbows


Spices can be hard to find. Fresh garlic and ginger are easy to come by. Salt, pepper, chili powder, and curry powder are easy to find. I’ve come across paprika, cinnamon, and galangal… whatever that is… but cumin has evaded us. MSG, on the other hand, abounds.


“Permitted Flavour Enchancer 621”


The eggs here are not sterilized like in North America, and left unrefrigerated.


Eggs, rough translation: Power Protein, Power Eating!



4 thoughts on “Food Part 1

  1. This is my favourite post yet! I love exploring new foods, and this post wants me to run away and run to PNG all at the same time, hahaha. I’m wondering, is the banana ketchup meant to go on bananas? Or just has bananas in it? So weird! And are Rice Bubbles the same as Rice Krispies? As for the eggs, I’ve heard that if the protective coating is not washed off (like it is in Canada), eggs can last quite awhile, even at room temperature. Do you eat them? Have you gotten food poisoning from anything yet? Hope you can at least cover all your food groups 🙂

    • Hahaha we have 3 bedrooms so you’re free to visit! Banana ketchup is meant to go on the same things as regular ketchup. It tastes almost the exact same, just a bit tangier. I assume Rice Bubbles are Rice Krispies, haven’t tried them since they aren’t GF. We eat eggs a lot, and leave them at room temp. We’ve both had GI issues twice – most likely from the water.

  2. Oh god, the meat with noodles in it made me almost hurl, I can’t even imagine… I’m glad that you guys have sorted some other meats though, a strictly no-meat (but still healthy) diet would be really difficult to maintain (esp. without gluten!) in PNG!

    • Definitely! We still don’t eat meat very often since you basically have to cook it the same day you buy it if you want it to be good, and we’re pretty picky. But we go to the Pacific hotel every so often for steak 🙂

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