Hawaii Food and Drink
The islands of Hawaii are a mixture of various cultures that represent those immigrants who came to work the plantations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is therefore not surprising that Hawaiian cuisine also highlights this mixture by fusing traditional Hawaiian ingredients with the cooking styles of Japan, China, the Philippines, Korea, Polynesia, Portugal and of course America.
Naturally cultivated foods are abundant in Hawaiian cooking. Tropical fruits like banana, papaya, coconut, mangoes and even apples and strawberries are usually picked fresh for breakfast, served with a squeeze of fresh lime. Green mangoes are often pickled with Chinese five spice while green papayas are tossed in a Vietnamese style salad with fish and fresh prawns.
Fish and seafood in general are a major staple of the state’s diet. Tuna is considered the most important fish in Hawaiian culture. Slipjack tuna, yellow fin tuna and albacore tuna can be grilled or sauteed, they can be made into a poke (raw seafood cubed and mixed with vegetables) or even served as sashimi. Pacific blue marlin is also a popular choice while broadbill swordfish is shipped all over the United States with steaks being grilled, broiled or cooked in a stir fry.
Despite a love for fresh and organic produce, it is interesting that the people of Hawaii are the second largest consumers of Spam in the world. Originally part of American servicemen’s rations, Spam became an important source of protein for a state that was denied fishing rights post World War II. Spam is enjoyed a variety of ways in Hawaii including fried and served with rice, wrapped in ti leaves and roasted, skewered and deep-fried, or cooked in a stir fry with cabbage.
Things to try:
“Plate Lunch”: this is a staple of Hawaiian culture and can be found on many local restaurant menus. It usually consists of two scoops of rice, American macaroni salad and many different toppings including hamburger patties, fried eggs and gravy.
Kālua Pork: this is marinated pork that has been cooked in an imu - an underground oven. Once fully cooked, it is shredded and served with steamed cabbage. Kālua Pork is often found at luaus.
Malasada: a Portuguese donut (without a hole) that has been deep fried and coated with sugar.
Traditional Hawaiian Luau: For the people of Hawaii, the words “luau” and “party” are interchangeable. A luau is a traditional feast made up of poi, kālua pig, poke, lomi salmon, opihi (shellfish), haupia (a coconut milk based dessert) and of course beer and entertainment.
Hawaiian drinks consist of many tropical fruit cocktails with favourites being Blue Hawaii and Mai Tais. Okolehao is an old, traditional Hawaiian liquor made of ti plant. Like most South Pacific Islands, Hawaii also offers kava. Wine and beer are not uncommon with wine being produced mainly in Maui and the island of Hawaii. There are also a few breweries including the Maui Brewing Co which produces Hawaiian microbrews.
Things to know:
Since Hawaii is a state in America, traditional US tipping standards apply.
Drinking age: 21
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