Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hawaii: SPAM and Other ‘Ono Grindz’

Ono grindz:  means good food in Hawaiian.

One of the ways Hula Babe and Beach Boy ‘go local’ is by the way we eat!  But that can be said of us no matter where in the world we travel. Half the fun of travel is trying the local cuisine.

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And there’s no bettah way, as they say here,  to get a taste of Hawaii than by eating some of the killah ono grindz and that includes, my friends, none other than. . .SPAM!

SPAM, its name derived from ‘spiced ham’ was the creation of Minnesota-based Hormel foods back in 1937. They came up with a recipe to use left over pork shoulder and an employee is credited with giving it the immortal name of “SPAM” as result of a contest.

spamhawaii2014 006Despite what some of you may believe is in those ubiquitous cans, it is a mixture of ground pork and ham, with salt, sugar and other special ingredients.  It is cooked then canned and cooked again, then cooled in the can. 

Of course, in Hawaii they have versions of SPAM we never see back home, like the little SPAM singles to the left. 




In Honolulu they have an annual SPAM JAM event that spans several days in honor of this tasty treat. (Even at KoOlina, where we are, weekly SPAM carving/cooking/creating contests always draw contestants.)

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We were blown away by the varieties now offered – think Starbucks and its variations on a cup of coffee - compared to the original flavor,which many of us at this age recall eating in our childhoods.

Hawaiians consume more SPAM than anywhere else in the world, with Guam a close second, and South Korea in third place. (SPAM is sold in exquisite gift boxes and considered a luxury gift given for special occasions like Lunar New Year in South Korea, according to numerous mainstream media articles.)

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But man cannot live by SPAM alone, so another of our favorite Hawaiian treats is poke.  Pronounced, POH-kay, it is a Hawaiian verb, meaning ‘to section or slice’.  It is made of fresh fish -- okay you squeamish ones out there -- that is, raw fish that has been ‘marinated’ in a sauce or doused with spices.

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Fresh ahi (tuna), shrimp, mussels in spicy flavors, soy or oyster sauce draw us to the massive poke bars at the local island supermarket, Foodland and even Costco offers a poke bar in the town of Kapolei.  Poke is traditionally served as a side course or appetizer, but we’ve often made entire meals out of two or three of these tasty treats.

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And then there is Kim Chee. also known as Kimchi and gimchi; some of our favorite Korean vegetable delights! These are fermented and/or pickled vegetables – spicy hot and usually served on a bowl of rice. Since we are cutting the carbs, we eat them as sides.  (Remember, finicky ones, sauerkraut is fermented vegetables as well).

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I almost worship this bar each time we enter our local store and never leave without a carton of the cucumbers in spicy hot sauce.

Hawaii is an international melting pot of culinary delights and we must give a nod to the Portuguese for bringing their hot spicy sausage to the islands so many decades ago.

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If you can’t bring yourself to try some SPAM and eggs for breakfast, you must try Portuguese sausage and eggs!

KirkHono2014 051And then there is Lau Lau, a local favorite made of pieces of pork and butter fish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed.  (If you’ve ever been to an authentic luau you will have had this dish along with poi (made of taro) as your buffet selections.)

So do they really eat this stuff, you are probably asking yourself. Yes, we do. We buy the lau-lau ready made and steam it in its leaf wrappings as shown on the left, below. While it steams we put Kim Chee and poke on the plates. . .unwrap and add the lau-lau. 

And there we have it, one of many of our dinners. . .

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. . .a feast that would have even made Hawaii’s King Kamehameha proud!

That’s it for today.  Hope you have a great week and see you back here soon! We appreciate the time you spend with us and always look forward to your comments.

Linking up:
Inside Journey’s Foodie Tuesday

27 comments:

  1. I have never had poke before, but once, when my Hawaiian friend got to choose the menu for his birthday, my cooking club did a whole evening of spam variations. :-)

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    1. I used to be the public relations director for a school district in the Pacific Northwest and to liven up those long summer days (yes, we did work year-round) we would plan an Annual Spam Lunch. . .and we'd eat spam and liverwurst, white bread, mayo, potato chips and Oreos. Last year we decided to get a group together for a Reunion Spam Lunch and it was so popular we are already planning the Second Annual Spam lunch this coming summer! Thanks for the visit. xo

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  2. That's a lot of background info, thanks. Now I know my SPAM.

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    1. Think how you can stun fellow guests at the next cocktail party you attend when you are able to chat about the history of SPAM! ;-) Thanks for the visit.

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  3. Hi Jackie and Joel,

    WOW! You two should seriously consider hosting a weekly online cooking/travelling show, something to the effect of 'Local Fare for the Traveller', which also rhymes!;-D How interesting the etymology behind the word, 'Spam'. Kinda makes you look at all the junk in your inbox with a new found respect....actually...no. Anyway, as food I can see how it might be appealing in certain dishes, in small amounts. So amazing that you incorporate the specialties of a culture into your own lives!

    Have a wonderful week! And, bon appetit!

    xo
    Poppy

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    1. Oh Poppy, you made us chuckle on that suggestion. They do serve SPAM sushi here as well as some use it in stir fry. They guy that won last week's contest had actually turned it into tasty looking meatballs! :-) Thanks for the visit.
      xo
      Jackie

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  4. Between the spam and the kimchi, you could have had me thinking you were in Korea. Trust me you would fit right in; at least food wise :) Spam...no thank you (I receive gift sets of this stuff on major holidays in Korea, and always have to find another victim (um friend) to hoist it off on...haha. The kimch I eat everyday!

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    1. Oh Nancie I wondered if you had given or received any of those beautifully decorated gift packs! If I could have SPAM and kimchee, I'll be right over (at least after you get back from Chiang Mai).

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  5. I love finding out about the foods in other parts of the world. Grocery stores are a fun place to visit when traveling. I would never have associated SPAM with Hawaii. By the way, I love kimchi, I enjoyed this post.

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    1. Donna, thanks so much for taking the time to comment - and I share your enthusiasm for grocery store visits when traveling. Hope to see you back here soon!

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  6. That was quite a SPAM education! Interesting how even Costco goes local!

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    1. I should have added, Irene, that Costco also sells SPAM by the case size! Thanks for visiting and taking time to comment.

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  7. What an interesting article! I really enjoyed it!

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    1. Marilyn, thanks so much for visiting today and for taking the time to comment. Glad you enjoyed this. Hope you'll soon be a regular here!

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  8. We were interested to see SPAM everywhere when we were in Hawaii as well. Did you know they have SPAM at the McDonald's there??

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    1. Oh, Jan, I didn't know that but I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, right? Thanks for the visit and taking time to comment -- hope to see more comments from you in the future!

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  9. Miss all that wild Hawaiian food. Great article!

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    1. We have been eating enough for the four of us, Doug and Carla! Thanks for stopping by. . .still doesn't seem right not seeing you at Chuck's.

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  10. I love eating local food when we travel, but I don't think that would include SPAM - or pickled vegetables - though I do love sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil!
    Have a great week!

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    1. I suspect there are some varieties of KimChee you might like and SPAM might grow on you, but then again I will never eat anything with, from or near liver so I understand not eating some foods! Thanks for visiting Jill!

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  11. I didn't know that the SP in SPAM stood for Spiced. This is a great little primer on Hawaiian food. I love all the SPAM varieties.

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    1. Oops, I accidentally commented while signed into my son's account. The above SPAM comment (ha ha) is actually from me.

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    2. Oh Michele, that is so funny. No better time and place for a spam pun!

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  12. I had no idea that Hawaiians ate so much SPAM, nor that it came in more than one flavour.You seemed to have embraced Hawaii in all its forms. Loved this post Jackie.

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    1. We have certainly taken a bite out of Hawaii. . .our shorts we noticed seem to be getting tighter! Glad you enjoyed the post, Leigh.

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  13. I had no idea SPAM was so popular in Hawaii until Anthony Bourdain featured it in a segment. SPAM and red beans? Interesting, isn't it?
    We use taro leaves to make soup. You had my mouth watering for some kimchi.
    Thanks for linking up this week, Jackie!

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  14. One of the coolest museums I've ever been to was the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota. That's where I first learned about Hawaiians love for Spam. They had all kinds of samples available.Would you believe that I didn't try any of them? Ridiculous, I know. So, I've never actually had Spam, but might be willing to give it a try next time in Hawaii.

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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