Aloha! This year keeps flying on by and already we’re at the letter H. Although we have never been to Hawaii with the kids, they have heard a lot about this destination from friends and relatives who have been. For some reason my daughter has always had a fascination with Hawaii and the more she learns, the more she wants to go. The kids were thrilled when we told them that we were planning to go to the Big Island for spring break this year and we’ve been taking every chance we can get to teach them about what they’ll see when they get there. So for this week I decided to go all out!
One thing you learn when researching Hawaii is that gatherings of family and friends are very important to the Hawaiian culture. It didn’t seem right to do a Hawaiian night with just the four of us, so we invited my parents and some friends to share the evening with us. The fact that my mom is an excellent cook and offered to contribute to the meal was an added bonus!
The kids and I watched a video about the Hawaiian islands and a few clips about the significance of music and hula dancing to the native Hawaiian culture. We made a grass skirt for my daughter and learned a simple Hawaiian dance as well. When our guests arrived we greeted them with leis and the kids and I did the dance for my parents. They were extremely impressed. I’m sure this had more to do with our enthusiasm than our actual talent.
For the meal I tried to plan dishes that showed the range of variety in the Hawaiian culture. The state of Hawaii is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world and the food reflects this. The largest demographic group in the state is actually Asian and the food is heavily influenced by Japanese, Chinese and Filipino cuisine. European influences play a role and of course the Native Hawaiian culture plays a large part in every area of Hawaiian cuisine as well.
In a traditional luau, the central feature is the pig cooked in an imu, or stone lined underground oven. I was able to see a ceremony of the unearthing of the pig at a traditional Maori dinner in New Zealand once and it really is quite impressive. Of course, that sort of thing was a little beyond our scope. Actually, the first thing my husband said when I told him I was planning a luau for Hawaii night was, “Don’t even think of burying a pig in the backyard!”
So for our scaled down luau I found a recipe for imitation imu pork done in the slow cooker. I had that going all day and I added a tropical fruit plate, coconut shrimp, macaroni salad, green salad and rice. My mom contributed shoyu chicken and a pineapple cake for dessert.
The verdict? I think we can say this one was a hit. The shoyu chicken was the crowd favourite (which didn’t surprise me one bit. Have I mentioned that my mom is a fabulous cook?) and the kids surprised me by devouring the coconut shrimp. The pork came out very tender and the side dishes were all well received. And as full as we were, we all managed to clean our plate when it came to dessert time. Perhaps the key to getting the kids to like different cuisines is to have my mom come over and cook every week!
After supper we put on Lilo and Stitch for the kids and relaxed with our own adult version of dessert; Blue Hawaiians. Or the closest thing to Blue Hawaiians we could make with what we had on hand. A good end to a great evening.
So now we have a week to rest up from Hawaii night to prepare for our next destination. See you next week for the letter “I”.