I just returned from an amazing vacation to the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii. The locals refer to the Big Island as the "island of extremes" since there are volcanos and snow at the same time. I refer to the Big Island as the "island of extremes" because I had some of the best food I have ever had there and some of the worst!
Here are the best things I ate in Hawaii...
This is tuna poke (pronounced po-kay). The tuna is raw and as fresh as it could be because it is caught right there in Hawaii. The tuna is chopped up with green onions, avocados, soy sauce and sesame oil. I normally hate fish and I didn't even want to try it. But... it is always good to try new things so I forced myself to have a bite. To my suprise, I not only didn't gag but instead I loved it! It isn't fishy at all, but tastes more like the fresh ocean. You can get poke everywhere in Hawaii, including the grocery stores.
This is a rambutan, otherwise known as a "hairy lychee." I found these at a farmers market in the middle of Kohala. To open this exotic fruit you need to squeeze it very hard until the shell pops open. Inside is a delicious fruit that looks like a huge lychee. It tasted like a mix between a lychee and a grape. There was a lot of juice packed inside of that shell! I like to remember what Andrew Zimmern says, "if it looks good, eat it!"
This looks just like an ordinary pancake, but don't be fooled. This pancake is huge and is the fluffiest pancake I have ever had in my life. It was served with butter, which I spread all over. Whoever doesn't put butter on their pancakes isn't living life. It was so delicious that I skipped the syrup. I got this amazing delicacy at a local diner called Hawaiian Style Cafe. This cafe was recommended to me by the people who worked at our hotel. It is very popular, but inside it sort of looks like a dump. Sorry to say.
The guy with this huge cleaver is at the farmers market in Kona. You ask him for a fresh coconut and he cuts it up with his enormous cleaver. I was very scared he was going to cut his hand off! First, he cuts a hole in the top of the coconut and sticks a straw in to drink the juice. It was so fresh! Then you take back the coconut and he cuts it up so you can eat the meat. This was a young coconut so the meat was kind of like jello. The experience was very unique. You should also go to the farmers market for the tourist stuff like jewelry and ukeleles. A ring I saw at our hotel was $20, but here it was only $5!
Now, onto the worst things I had in Hawaii...
Poi. Also known as the worst food in history. It is flavorless taro root paste and should be avoided at all times. The locals say "it is an acquired taste." Yeah right. I will never acquire this taste.
Everything on this plate is nasty. It is called a loco moco and is also from the Hawaiian Style Cafe. A loco moco is meat (usually hamburger) on top of rice, covered in gravy. This is a local version that you would have to be loco to eat. On the bottom of the picture, you can see the second worst thing in Hawaii...Spam!!! Bleh!!!! Why do people like this? What even is it? It tasted like dog food (I want to clarify I have never actually tried dog food before). People in Hawaii are obsessed with Spam, and I am obsessed with avoiding it. Is this also an acquired taste?
This was the main course at the local luau. Everything on the table was revolting. I don't even know what half of the things are! Even my mom didn't eat it, and she eats everything. The main course was a whole pig that they roasted underground. It just tasted like shredded pork. They served it with it's head on and that was actually cool. Some people don't want to be aware of what they're eating, but I am comfortable seeing the source. Stay away from the luau. Unless you like fire dancing.
After a few days, we were sick of eating expensive hotel food. We went to the local grocery store and got food for the room. We made it fun and decided that everything we got had to be from Hawaii. Some of my favorites were the Maui style potato chips, the local fruit juices, the HUGE avocados, and the tiny apple bananas. My mom found some awful snack called "cracked seed." She loved it but I don't know why. The Big Island has a lot of good food and bad food, but I love to try local food. As long as it's not poi or Spam.