No Rain, No Rainbow!

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Almost every Saturday before 8:00 am, I make sure I get up early to shop at the farmers market.  This morning was no different from last Saturday’s routine except I noticed its a little gloomy, very still and there’s a nip in the air.  I look forward to smelling, touching and admiring tropical flowers from the flower vendors at no charge.  But really, my purpose was my usual shopping for fresh local produce to support local farmers.  The early morning short drive to Wailuku was a breeze and my timing was impeccable.  I got there just in time for the rain.  Mind you, this was not just drops here and there, it was sheets and sheets of rain like Noah’s ark days!

No umbrella, no hat, no raincoat, no problem.  While everyone was running to the closest canopy or vendor’s tents, I was walking leisurely, visiting my favorite produce stands and buying my kale, carrots, avocados, cilantro, cucumbers and mustard cabbage, like the usual.  After all, no sweat, its just rain.  In no time, I was done with what I came there for, except, I was soaked and dripping wet. Funny thing when it’s raining in paradise (oh, yes, we do have those days), you can tell the tourists from the locals without even looking who’s talking.  I heard a lady with a mild English accent saying that this is their last few days on the island and was asking everyone why it has to rain today.  Few shoppers were in a hurry to get out of the rain because their hair will get wet, complaining that this is not what they’ve come here for and the rain ruined their Maui vacation.  Another guy with his camera was livid because his very expensive camera was getting wet and his brand new Nike will get muddy!

I looked around and it appears to me, I am the only soul smiling amidst the sudden change of weather.  Imagine this – I was practically having my morning cold shower while shopping for my vegetables.  I was kinda’ happy that it was pouring rain, don’t know why. I didn’t mind being soaked, wet and a bit cold – it’s quite soothing.  I actually enjoyed the free water from heaven cleansing us all and giving life to all living things on the land.  I can just imagine the next week’s harvest because of today’s rain. How gorgeous and colorful the flowers will be after today.  As I was walking back to the car, I can hear my Grandma saying, “Jean, it’s either God is crying for all the sins of mankind or He’s getting ready to show us a reminder of his promise – a one of a kind and beautiful rainbow.  Remember, no rain, no rainbow.”  You gotta’ love grandma and her simple wisdom.

As for me, no doubt about it, I love the rain and it doesn’t get me down.  It’s peaceful, it’s soothing and it has healing power to “chillax” (chill and relax) weary minds.  Rainy days bring back good and old memories from my childhood.  Comfort food tastes better when it’s raining, cuddling seems a must, perfect time to read your favorite book and hot coco or tea suddenly sounds delicious.  P.S.  Did you know the best known natural prescription for insomnia that works all the time?  Yep, you got it.  It’s not sex.  It’s rainy nights!

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NO DOUBT: Local’s Top 3 Favorite Food

I have not met local braddahs or sistahs who would disagree on a subject of food.  We love them all.  If you have been living on the islands full-time, 10 years or more, I’m sure you know or have an idea how strong the passionate affair we have with local food.  Eating is almost a ritual and we don’t stop eating when we get full but until we’re tired.  Not only we take our time to savor every bite but we also enjoy “talking story” in between scoops.

So, here’s your top 3 local favorite food on the islands:

SPAM – I know exactly what you’re thinking, the “mystery meat” that’s not even a meat.  SPAM was introduced to the islands after World War II and was invented to supply the U.S. soldiers. Out of 16 millions of cans of this “wonder meat” produced in America, 7 million cans (44%) are consumed in Hawaii. SPAM is a must item on our grocery list and a common ingredient to our local favorite dishes. It replaces the greasy bacon or the expensive ham on our breakfast plate. It also adds flavor and color (and lots of sodium) to stir fry cabbage for lunch. Bottom line, we cannot make SPAM musubi without it. You know you’re local if not having a can of SPAM in the house is consider as an emergency!  We take our SPAM seriously.

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Poke (po-keh) – basically fresh catch, raw fish fillet, cut in cubes and seasoned with rock salt and select “add-ons” to bring out its unique taste and flavor to your palate. Contrary to incorrect notion, fresh fish don’t smell or taste “fishy” at all – it only stinks if it’s not fresh. Some popular “add-ons” and spices include onions, wasabi, sesame oil or seeds, chili peppers, seaweeds, kukui nut, soy sauce and green onions. Poke is great as an appetizer, it’s like hands and gloves with fresh poi and perfect with steamed rice for every meal. This is something you make and eat right away to enjoy. Remember, if you can’t taste the ocean in every bite, then it’s not poke. P.S. I haven’t seen poke served with SPAM and personally, I do not look forward to that sad day!

Ahi Limu Poke from Tamashiros

Ahi Limu Poke by Tamashiro’s, Honolulu.

Saimin – begin with glorified noodles from Asia, most likely introduced to the islands by imported sugarcane and pineapple plantation workers from China, Japan and Philippines. Saimin is a noodle dish like a soup with meat stock or broth and garnish with fish cake, SPAM, green onions, shredded cabbage and eggs (boiled or scrambled), that’s your basic recipe. Through the years, locals add their own ethnic flare. Some choose their own type of meat, vegetables, seasonings, garnishes and even change the way it is prepared and served. Some like it with broth, others like it dry. In restaurants you can order your bowl with an option to add seafood, char siu, roast pork, dumplings, vegetarian or plain. Did you know that McDonald franchises in Hawaii serve saimin on their menu? Hot saimin is our great companion and comfort food during those cold and rainy days.  Okay, here’s your next challenge. If you love noodles or hamburgers, be brave and discover, better yet, sink your teeth in our famous saimin burger. It’s a blissful experience, indeed like no other. Don’t knock it until you try it.

How about you? Have you try any of these local favorites? What’s the #1 on your list – you can eat almost everyday?

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Saimin with vegies, fish cake, pork & dumplings.

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