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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Big Island Food Party!

Uploaded: Mar 22, 2019

Just got back from sweet aloha on the Big Island. Visited mi amigo Jungle John - farmer of lemons, oranges, lychee, and soon, Kona coffee, which I must report it is worth all $25 per pound, the minimum one pays these days for 100% Kona-grown. Smooth in texture, and not bitter in taste, cups do not even need cream. Lucky us, we got to stay on a farm with a guy who grows it, and snuggle up next to hot mugs of his black velvet each morning.

Bob’s coffee and fruit orchard is on the west or “dry side” of the island, overlooking Two-Step, the snorkeling hot spot. Take a bumpy, dirt road far up the hill past trees of papaya and bushes of wild coffee, to a tropical paradise you may never leave. That’s what happened to Bob. Actually, it’s a story you hear quite often from locals. “Not really knowing where I was headed, I sailed from the mainland in the 1950’s, and landed on the Big Island,” Bob recants. “The ‘aina * took hold, and sent me here to start this farm. I never went back.”

Bob planted over 100 types of exotic, fruit-bearing trees across 10 acres, and 50 years. Add in the island's over-abundance of sun and water, and the ‘aina brings forth a fertile bounty of unusual and voluptuous fruits that gush, ooze, make your lips all sticky,

Abiu fruit

taste like ice cream

Ice Cream Bean fruit

and overflow with mouthfuls of yum.

Coffee is Bob’s main crop, but he grows plenty of citrus and avocados too.

Hawaii produces a vast selection of both,

including the Sharwil - King of Avocados. In-season when we visited, Sharwils are among the largest of avocados, prized for a creamy texture, and their high meat/pit ratio.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe they’re planted anywhere on the mainland. Boo for us. Like many fruits from the region that do not travel well, what grows in Hawaii often stays in Hawaii.

Jungle John also swings from the trees on the eastern, rainy, or Hilo side of the island. It was there we met up with the aftermath of the Kilauea volcano eruption. During the summer months of 2018, Pele (Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes) let out about 250 million cubic meters (66 billion-ish gallons) of lava, one of the largest Hawaiian eruptions in decades. It's like she's been watching all the crap around this country and the world and just puked a big Blah! blah, blah, blah! It started from Fissure 8 near John’s neighborhood of Pahoa. We visited ground zero. It reminded me of the California forest fires, but if you can imagine, worse. At least in the fire, semblances of the burnt area remain. But with an eruption, everything burns, and the lava erases entire communities. This used to be a neighborhood.

Fissure 8 in the background.

The flow finally stopped in early fall,

but Pele has not gone to sleep yet. Legend has it as she retreats back up to the volcano, a path of steam is left in her wake. Right now, that path crosses the road to Johnnie's house,

but he’s a lucky one - Bev, his neighbor - not so much. Pele has dropped by for an extended stay, steam pathing across Bev's property and under her house; warping floor boards, smelling up the air, forcing the dear woman to move.

As we tour the property, Bev points a laser temperature gun into numerous sink holes which have appeared everywhere. “125° in this hole, 159° over here.”

“My neighbor found a hole that measured 209°, so he built a slender metal canister, fills it with meat and potatoes, sticks it down the hole, and slow cooks his dinner! (Hmmmm, this must be the origins of the luau’s buried, smoked pig.)

The heat is so constant, and the steam so hot, it is burning the foliage from the ground up.

Sometimes the air smells of sulfur, but the first time we visited, it was a different, complex aroma. “More like burning fiber,” Bev accurately describes as she motions to plants toasting from inside the soil.

“Reminds me of ironing clothes. Doesn’t it smell like a Laundromat?”

It did.

* ‘Aina / that which feeds, is a Hawaiian term celebrating Mother Nature‘s great power to provide food and connect our bodies and hearts back to the land, and to her. Hawaiians call themselves keiki o ka 'aina, or “children of the land,” maintaining a primal and spiritual connection to nature, land, and sea.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Pele Not Fond Of Haoles, a resident of another community,
on Mar 24, 2019 at 8:22 am

"but Pele has not gone to sleep yet. Legend has it as she retreats back up to the volcano, a path of steam is left in her wake."

"this must be the origins of the luau's buried, smoked pig."

Speaking of Pele & smoked pig...the reason Pele is disruptive is because unlike the native Hawaiians, haoles do not practice a particular ancient ritual when it comes to smoked pig.

One is supposed to leave a small container of smoked pig by the roadside when traveling home from a dinner where smoked pig has been served. This is in respect to Pele & ensures traveler safety & good fortune.

When this practice ignored, bad things happen.

Since haoles rarely do this & instead opt to eat like pigs, it brings misfortune & bad tidings such as automotive breakdowns & earthly disasters.

It is also Pele's way of saying haole go back to the mainland & corrupt your own culture. Though volcanos have been known to erupt at times, Hawaiians have never been destroyed by one because they respect the wrath of Pele. Haoles disregard Pele and as a result, there are increasingly perceived 'natural disasters'.

Hawaiians as a whole are laid back & do not incur warfare against intruders. They leave it up to Pele. The only exception was when they took out Captain James Cook of Great Britain who was trying to colonize what was then known as the Sandwich Islands.

Don't mess with Pele. Though haoles own most of the island now, they will never be accepted as true Hawaiians...just temporary visitors (aka tourists) who should go back to where they came from.

Lahaina (Maui) has been ruined by development & unfortunately Pele does not have a big enough volcano to take out the carpetbaggers from abroad.

The Big Island is her turf.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Mar 24, 2019 at 9:25 am

Interesting Pele Not Fond Of Haoles. You made me look up Haoles. I hope it describes those who don't self-identify as keiki o ka 'aina, rather than a term based just on the color of someones skin. Mahalo.

Posted by Native reflections, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 24, 2019 at 10:59 am

Wow, Laura. Very informative article, thanks. But to claim (even after spending time in Hawaii) that you didn't know the word "Haole" -- and even now, are unsure of its connotations -- helps, even unwittingly, to support the point that the first commenter expressed so passionately. The perspective of seeing your native land invaded by newcomers who think it's cool, act as if it were created for their pleasure -- even proceed to dub themselves "locals" -- is one that resonates in many other parts of the world besides Hawaii.

Also, real Kona beans (Hope Farms) were available much nearer to most of your readers -- at Stanford's shopping center -- until Stanford sold the center to Indiana-based mall operators a few years ago and they kicked out Teri Hope's respected Palo Alto Coffee Roasting Co. (in favor of Starbucks).

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Mar 24, 2019 at 11:04 am

We are at home where our soul is open and our humbleness leads the way, Native reflections; where we connect with the people and the land. A hui ho!

Posted by Man From Molokai, a resident of another community,
on Mar 24, 2019 at 1:43 pm

> "We are at home where our soul is open and our humbleness leads the way, Native reflections; where we connect with the people and the land."

Sounds more like Manifest Destiny. Try running that 'new age' quote by the Native American Indians & see if they concur...especially in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Arizona/New Mexico & in Oklahoma where the 'Trail of Tears' forced countless Cherokees to relocate from the SE United States once gold was discovered on their native lands by the white man.

The native Hawaiians endured a similar fate due to the New England Congregational missionaries who arrived in the islands to 'civilize' them & in the process, their descendants stole the land to establish sugar cane & pineapple too! Very similar to the Spanish missionaries whose goal was to civilize & assimilate the Native California Indians to the ways of the Inquisition.

Jack Lord of Hawaii 5-0 fame used to live in Kahala (an exclusive & expensive neighborhood outside of Diamond Head). He would always welcome his guests with his now infamous line, "Welcome to my island."

So yes, haoles are unwelcome long visit is OK as it generates tourist
dollars...just go back home after you've overstayed your welcome.

Posted by MPer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 24, 2019 at 3:50 pm

You are against plastic containers because of pollution and climate change. Yet, you no problem jumping on a plane to Hawaii, which is a huge cause of pollution. Can't have it both ways. Maybe stick to food writing.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Mar 24, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Oh Mper, I knew someone would write that. The blog is getting so predictable. I'll put my sustainability creds up to anybody my dear. But please remember don't let perfect be the enemy of the good. Life is play or so they say. But I plan to learn something along the way.

Posted by Punahou Graduate '78, a resident of another community,
on Mar 24, 2019 at 6:20 pm

Agreeing with Mper. Environmental sustainability advocacies are often based on one's personal convenience factors & self-righteousness. The rest of the disposables end up at some landfill like everything else. Why kid ourselves...or others?

Perhaps best if kahlua pig is prepared stateside (just dig a hole) & Big Island coffee purchased at Starbucks, Peets or Philz. No need to waste jet fuel for a cup of coffee or island-specific mangos & avocados. Of note, pineapples can also be purchased at most grocery stores...just know how to select them.

Nowadays, an all-natural 'escape' to Hawaii is no different than someone driving a BMW, wearing a Rolex watch or sporting Patagonia fleece-wear.

The upwardly-mobile elitists are now trying to redefine 'real' by being unreal.

How come these elitists don't go to Puerto Rico instead? The island not classy enough for them?

Posted by Mprr, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 25, 2019 at 1:26 am

Railing against plastic companies while jetting off to Hawaii gives exactly 0.0 in sustainablsbilty cred.

Posted by Chicken, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights,
on Mar 25, 2019 at 6:53 am

Sounds like the plastics guy read this week too. All this righteous attitude & judgement by writers who use fake names. People with no cred talking about credibility.

Posted by resident, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 25, 2019 at 7:00 am

Since the topic of pineapples has come up check out the Dole Fruit Company which is headquartered in Westlake Village, Ventura County. That is the pineapple company which has a large growing presentation facility on Oahu, and is now growing pineapples on Kauai. Now check out the country of Honduras on Wikipedia. US companies own large tracts of land for the production of Bananas and pineapples - now Dole Fruit Company. So that brings up the topic are US companies that operate tax-free in domestic and foreign countries responsible for the fair pay and sharing of educational responsibilities of the citizens of that country?

Ms. Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi are long time home owners on the big island at Hulalai, as is Michael Dell. Mr. Microsoft has a large compound behind the King Kamehamea Hotel at Kona-Kailua. At certain times many private jets are lined up at the Kona Airport. Back to the long time owners of the fruit companies and relation to Hawaii Islands and the Central American countries - on same earth lines. We are now seeing vacation advertisements for Honduras and Guatamala - Heart of the Mayan World. Are owners of the islands now shifting to Central America because of the VOG - Volcanic smog?
So all of you concerned with airplanes your favorite big time Silicon Valley inhabitants (Zuckerberg, Pelosi's, Dell, Gates) own considerable property there, are invested there, and have homes there and are busy working the Central American growing and tourist areas.

Sorry to go off-topic but it is all fruits - both to eat and people. Good article and presentation.

Posted by MPer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 25, 2019 at 2:42 pm

@chciken - probably not real name either.
No need to prove any credibility on my part, just pointing out the authors glaring hypocrisy and un-woke responses to mine and other's comments.

Posted by NEWS FLASH, a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park,
on Mar 25, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Newsflash. Many people who don't like plastic waste fly on planes.
Interesting piece Laura. Thanks.

Posted by Aloha, a resident of another community,
on Mar 25, 2019 at 10:22 pm

I grew up on the island. The aloha spirit is inclusive of those who honor the land and the traditions. Aloha is a way of treating each other with love and respect. Aloha is sending positive energy out in the world, and seeing it return back to you. Aloha is living in peaceful balance with that around you.

Posted by Auntie Lil/Kauai, a resident of another community,
on Mar 26, 2019 at 7:55 am

I am getting old...meant to say > stealing native [land]

Posted by resident, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 26, 2019 at 8:59 am

I attend many events regarding the music and culture of Hawaii both here and on the islands. I understand how the missionaries came in and took the land and married the inhabitants to increase their footprint on the islands. A form of colonization very popular with our current EU participants. The Hawaii flag carries a British notation for the British attempts to colonize the islands. Hawaii's location in the Pacific prior to statehood in 1959 was/is the home of the Pacific fleet. Pearl Harbor is now a national park with great detail regarding the start of WW2 for the US participation.
Every island has a military facility.

Fast forward to today regrading the immigrants from the Central American countries which - if you check out on Wikipedia have the level of US company involvement regarding some military efforts and land owned by major US companies regarding agricultural pursuits. Honduras is the original Banana Republic and also is supporting a series of major US companies that are in the growing business - bananas, pineapples, coffee beans, etc. Each of these countries has major airports, ports for shipping, major hotel participation, and Expedia trips to interesting locations with great historic value. So why are the people leaving? Same story as in Hawaii - low pay for local inhabitants? US companies usurping the countries abilities to command their own governments? The major church in Central America countries unable to provide the required support and scattering the inhabitants? Our local political people who champion the immigration of these people are the same people who are invested in the agricultural pursuits in Hawaii by American companies.
That takes you back now to what the rationale is for the migration of the age bracket of the major work force for those countries. Same as problem in Hawaii. So much for the targeting of countries which have rich resources and attributes which are conducive to the tourist trade. They all require a fair amount of pay for labor and a church which provides educational and social support within country. The Mormon Church in Hawaii does a great job on the educational front to support island history and culture.

Posted by resident, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 26, 2019 at 10:19 am

Let's not forget Walmart. Stand in line at the Mt.View store and you now see that it is the major banker which is the money transfer location for people sending money home to our foreign neighbors. They charge a price for those money transfers. They also sell agricultural items from island locations. There are Walmarts at all of your local foreign country cities. If you visit a Walmart on any of the Hawaiian islands it is a stop point for the cruise ships where the tourists can purchase all of those items that the ship sells for a very high price. And if you buy coffee in Hawaii you can take it through the airport checkpoint, as well as plants bought at the airport shops. Island locations are big business so there is a lot of American pressure going on here to support the migration of peoples - follow the money. Now cruise ships are having a stop at the Central American ports. business is booming -but don't pay the locals a living wage while you are at it. That includes some type of medical support.

Posted by Gone To Maui, a resident of another community,
on Mar 26, 2019 at 12:30 pm

"We are now seeing vacation advertisements for Honduras and Guatamala - Heart of the Mayan World."

This is an extension of countless haoles marketing the fake 'aloha' world. Only fools wade in those waters with their pseudo-Hawaiian vernacular that they probably got out of some paperback.

"So all of you concerned with airplanes your favorite big time Silicon Valley inhabitants (Zuckerberg, Pelosi's, Dell, Gates) own considerable property there, are invested there, and have homes there and are busy working the Central American growing and tourist areas."

Larry Ellison of Oracle bought the entire island of Lanai!

Wealthy Silicon Valley types along with do-gooder missionaries & calculating haole entrepreneurs destroy everything they touch in Hawaii.

Goodbye native world & culture...and say hello to PLASTIC Haole Land.

Posted by Wear Your Plastic Proudly, a resident of another community,
on Mar 27, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Fleece wear is made from recycled plastic.

That is how people who eschew plastic get by. They buy Patagonia as a fashion statement & then call themselves environmentalists.

Posted by Auntie Lil From Kauai,, a resident of another community,
on Mar 27, 2019 at 5:35 pm

More shallow water haole being grilled here than mahi-mahi.

No need for haole mainlanders to come to Hawaii for mahi-mahi...just go to Fish Market & save yourself a trip.

Posted by Welcome To My Island, a resident of another community,
on Mar 28, 2019 at 1:51 pm

The last time checked, the Native Hawaiian population was about 10%. 34% is of mixed Asian descent and haoles make up about 25%. The remaining 30% is Hispanic, Alaskan, African-American & Native American Indian in smaller %s.

Which means...many of the so-called 'locals' promoting their island roots & culture are little more than 20th century transplants themselves regardless of how many generations their families have resided in Hawaii.

If anything, only the true 10%ers have a right to claim a true island heritage as mixed marriages tend to dilute one's cultural background.

The private island of Niihau is the only island with a 100% Hawaiian population & outsiders are restricted from visiting or living there.

As a result, most of the self-professed 'native' Hawaiians who reside on the main islands are not pure Hawaiian but of mixed cultural & ethnic heritages.

Since the majority of the true Hawaiians & the corresponding 10% reside in Niihau, for others to claim Hawaii as their time-honored native stomping ground is ludicrous.

Perhaps just as phony as the late Jack Lord welcoming guests to Kahala & most of the Hawaii 50 cast who portrayed Hawaiians.

Posted by Tiny Bubbles, a resident of another community,
on Mar 28, 2019 at 6:18 pm

Expatriate haoles from the mainland are the new 'locals'. It started back in the late 1970s when they arrived en masse & started wearing white pants, white shoes, colorful aloha shirts and puka shells around their necks. Talk about clown central.

Forty years have passed & now they are firmly ingrained into 'island life'. Like ants at a picnic, one cannot eradicate all nuisance elements.

Most have come from California 'to be at one with the sea' if they couldn't achieve this contrived state of nirvana in Santa Cruz, Baja California or SoCal.

The rich folks have settled in Maui which is now a cheesey cliche..."Here today, gone to Maui". The pseudo-earthy types have settled in the Big Island while incurring the wrath of Pele who is essentially saying 'get lost'. Lanai is now owned by larry Ellison of Oracle & Oahu remains the metropolis of Hawaii.

Molokai is still untapped to a large extent because mainland haoles are still fearful of its former reputation as a leper colony.

Kahoolawe might be the best site for expatriate haoles but the island must first be cleared of ordinance remaining from the days when it was used for US Navy bombing practice.

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