Foods traditional to the ancient Hawaiians can nonetheless be found in Hawaii.
Hawaii is one of the world’s preferred vacation spot. By having an almost unceasing summer through the year, people from different avenues of life from different countries come and visit experience the pristine waters in addition to stunning views. Along with this great land mass is the dining experience that won’t be experienced in other parts of the planet. It’s not only the ambiance but the food through the years have started out simple island flavors to exquisite dining which will give the experience not just of Yankee food but the food of the world. The Hawaiian islands are not just the destination for great vacation it’s additionally a destination for a superb dining experience.
But traditional Hawaiian food needs a turn in the spotlight as well. A lot of our island heritage originates from traditions dealing with sharing food and providing for the family, or ohana. Hawaiians respected both land and sea and the traditonal ahupu’a system of land division from ocean to sea resulted in their diet included crops for example taro, banana, and sweet potato, as well as proteins like fish, pig, and chicken.
Foods traditional to the ancient Hawaiians can nonetheless be found in Hawaii today, and even though you could get a small taste of those foods by attending a luau, should you be looking for authenticity, you will fare better to search out the places where locals visit eat them – home kitchens, backyard luaus, and hole in the wall restaurants where traditions are continued and passed down through the generations.
Taro & Poi
No discussion of traditional foods of Hawaii could be complete without taro, arguably the key to the Hawaiian diet. Taro is one of the worlds oldest cultivated crops, arriving in Hawaii with the earliest Polynesians. In order to show the taro into poi, it was often steamed in the imu, then mashed with water and pounded right into a paste called pa’i’ai. (see photo at right.)
The pa’i’ai could be stored to dilute into batches of poi when needed. The leaves of the taro plant may also be used in cooking, and will be found in popular dishes today for example lau lau (where they take on a nearly spinach like consistency) and chicken or squid luau (a stew created using coconut milk.)
It had been illegal to sell hand pounded poi or pa’i’ai in Hawaii due to health department restrictions. This really is quite a shame because hand pounded poi tastes far better than the commercially produced poi you are able to buy in the supermarket or that you may have tried in a luau. The local company Mana Ai now ships hand pounded pa’i’ai worldwide and it’ll definitely be easier to find it here in Hawaii as the tradition is passed on to the younger generations.
Meat and Seafood
Many people think of pig as the most typical meat hunted and eaten in Hawaii. It is a fact that lau lau and kalua pig steamed in an underground oven, called an imu, are certainly traditional hawaiian foods that are still very popular today. Chicken, wild goose, hen, duck, and even dogs were also raised for food and cooked in the imu or higher hot coals.
The Hawaiian Islands are the place to find many types of seafood and the ancient Hawaiians enjoyed an eating plan rich in fish (steamed, broiled, salted, or eaten raw) along with other sea animals like opihi (limpets), crabs, sea urchins, turtles, in addition to many types of seaweed. Hawaiians fished for their seafood and also built fishponds in order to boost fish, such as those available on the south shore of Moloka’i. Today in a luau or special occasion, you will often see opihi, poke (cubed, seasoned raw fish) and whole fish as special dishes.
Fruit & Vegetable
Poi, fish, and other meats were vital that you the Hawaiian diet, but they were also supplemented by crops for example banana, coconut, and breadfruit. Many of these were imported by the early Polynesians, but there’s also indigenous berries such as the ohelo and akala berries. Today you’ll find a variety of tropical fruits in Hawaii that could not have been familiar to the ancient Hawaiians, including pineapple, mango, papaya, guava, and more. Since there were not many vegetables cultivated in ancient Hawaii, the main supply of greens were taro leaves. Young fern shoots, yams, and seaweeds (called limu).
Hawaiian Food Today
This list was intended to be focused more on foods traditional to the Hawaiian people, but when you are looking for what types of foods are popular in Hawaii today, including those relying on the various immigrant groups who found work on the sugar plantations, take a look at our article on Drinking and Dining in Honolulu.
You’ve traditional Hawaiian food favorites to savor when you’re in Hawaii. Though modern developed Hawaiian plate lunches and SPAM musubi are extremely popular, Hawaii still holds on dearly to the heritage of cuisine.