Welcome to the world’s most isolated community! Yup, if you’re one of the just 251 people living in the British Overseas territory of Tristan de Cunha, you’re probably well ahead of the isolation game.
A group of volcanic islands in the south Atlantic Ocean, 2,400 km off the coast of Cape Town, Tristan is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world. Consisting of one inhabited island (Tristan da Cunha itself), and several that are uninhabited, this territory has only one centre of population: The Settlement. And if you live there, you farm. All land is communally owned, and outsiders are prohibited from settling on Tristan.
Not so. As of March 9, the Island Council banned all arrivals (rerouting three cruise ships) and released a statement explaining that – thanks to the islands’ remoteness – residents have very limited immunity.
Fortunately, the majority of residents are farmers, so they’re probably living and eating much better than the rest of us. According to National Geographic, potatoes are the staple crop, and the island website states that “all Tristan families own their own stock and tend potato patches and gardens.” Cows, chickens, duck, and geese are all raised for food; sheep for their wool. And though there is a supermarket, any other foodstuffs (including flour, sugar, and sweets) must be ordered months in advance.
Which means the diet – while eminently healthy – is fairly limited by western standards. Potatoes pop up in almost every dish, alongside meat, fish, rock lobster and veggies from the garden. And this staple crop also appears as flour in the island’s most notable dish: potato cakes. Mashed potato, a little flour (made from potatoes if you’ve none of the real), and a pinch of salt become the pastry, which is then deep fried in petrel fat. The whole is then served with sweetened cream or jam – no doubt a bit of a treat!