One of the things I planned on doing when I got to Hawaii was to sample as much of the local cuisine as possible. With the exception of darwinawful Mexican/Latino/southwest cooking, which I despise, I pretty much enjoy a lot of other dishes from other cultures. I grew up on the classic meat and taters diet in the northeast, became addicted to seafood when I moved to Florida, and started enjoying Asian dishes later on, especially Japanese flavors. So, I made up my hungry mind to sample anything local whenever I could upon arriving on these rocks in the middle of the Pacific.
Hawaiian dishes are varied as much as anywhere else. They use seafood, meats, chickens, rice, and take advantage of the local fruits and vegetables grown here. Some of it is spicy, some to a lesser degree, but what little I’ve tried so far, I have enjoyed.
Poke’ has become my favorite since I first tried it. Usually made with raw fish, it can also be had in a variety of other tasty flavors. If you have ever eaten Ceviche’, (the one latino dish I do like), then you’ll like poke’. I found a nice and affordable selection of said poke’ at the Safeway of all places. They carry about a dozen different varieties with the mussels and clams being my favorite. I’ll usually pick up a pound every other week or more depending on the budget of course. It’s a good little meal in and of itself. As time goes on I’ll try more varieties
Mahi Mahi remains my favorite fish and it’s available in abundance out here, although a bit pricey. The meat is light in flavor and makes a great sammich. It also grills up nice and goes good in a summer dinner. Since summer is all year round here, it goes good anytime.
Laulau is next up on my to eat list. I haven’t had a real chance to sample any yet but from what I have been told, it is well worth it.
The islands produce a surprising amount of local eats. The soil seems to be conducive to farming and when the islands were on their own, they had to produce their own food. Fruits ranging from pineapples to mangoes, guava, star fruit, and more are easy to find and quite tasty. I had a local pineapple when I first got here and it was without a doubt, the sweetest pineapple I ever ate.
While most of the stores do have a locals section for produce, there are farm stands and roadside stores all over the island. You may pay a tad more for said produce but it’s definitely fresher and tastier.
Hawaii is very environmentally conscious and things like GMO’s are not welcome here. Corporate warlords like Monsanto are in a constant fight to get their chemical crap on the island but they are not winning. As always, it’s an uphill battle.
Organic produce is a big thing here. There are dozens of permaculture farms, little places which grow their own food and sell the excess. These are the places I want to support even if it means spending a bit extra for the food.
There is a local dairy on the island, along with some small cattle farms. Pork and chicken is raised locally too. They are all advertised as grass fed without hormones and other additives. Most of which can be found in the grocerterias.
Sugar has been a big crop over the years. In the valley area the big ugly sugar factory sits spewing out smoke and dust. The fields are covered in sugar cane which is harvested by burning off the tops. It makes the island smokey and smelly as hell. The upside, this is the last year for sugar cane production. Come the end of the year, they are shutting down. As to what will happen to the cane fields is unknown. Opening the area up to regular farming and producing more fruits and vegetables seems like a no brainer but no doubt developers and other interests will be having a say. It’s all politics and I had enough of such bullshit back in Key West.
As for the rest of us great unwashed, tastes seem to vary but vegetarians are quite popular here. When I was perusing the ads for a place to live, many stated renters had to be vegetarians as well in order to rent. I, am no vegetarian. I’m a carnivore from way back and have no intention of changing. The nice lady I rent from is a hardcore vegetarian but I made it clear up front I was not about to start eating leaves and twigs. She is ok with it and neither of us try to change the other. I do, however, try to not keep any meat in the house and when I cook it I do so when she is not around, just out of respect and because she is pretty cool and this is a nice place to stay. I’d rather not fuck it up right now when things are going so good. I eat meat, but I’m discreet about it.
So overall, as you can see from the last three posts, I won’t be starving to death out here in Hawaii. There is plenty of good choices and with a bit of resourcefulness, the costs can be overcome. One can still eat good without breaking the bank.
For anyone traveling, not just to Hawaii but anywhere, I highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and try different cuisines in your said travels. You may or may not like some of it, but you owe it to yourself to at least try. You may be surprised at just how more better some food is compared to what you are used to. Stay away from the fast food and chain restaurants. Ask the locals where to go and what to eat. And enjoy the different tastes from around the world.