It was our third day in Hawaii and the night before the wedding, meaning the whole wedding party, which pretty much included everyone we had come with except for myself, my mother and my cousin Mike, were at the rehearsal dinner. So My mom decided to take my cousin and I to the Polynesian cultural center. I had been to cultural centers and cultural museums before back at home, they were usually just buildings filled with artifacts so I thought I knew what to expect, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Once we paid our share and entered we were split into groups and led by a tour guide. We were taught about the history and traditions of Hawaii whole being led around the premises by our guide, we were shown lifelike huts, given samples of coconut bread and even watched dance performances. But nothing compared to the grand finale. At the end of the tour we were led to a huge outdoor dinning hall. We chose our seats at the long wooden tables. For me the most memorable part of this meal was oddly enough the bread we were served as an appetizer. It was light purple because it was made from a Polynesian staple food called poi. The rolls were soft and warm and had a sweet taste to them. There was also of course slow cooked pork, steamed fish and a salmon salad. At first glance the Salmon salad looked like a salsa. It had small cubes of salmon, chopped onions, tomatoes and green onions.
While we were eating dinner we watched performances of many different island dances. This visit exceeded all of my expectations I had previously held about the Polynesian Cultural Center, what made this meal so memorable was not only the food but also the experiences that came along with it, it was a one of a kind experience and I cannot wait to go back.
When I was growing up the person that I remember cooking the most for me was my father. Before I was born he had many jobs as a cook which included a few small restaurants, San Quentin Prison Hospital and he also served as a cook in the Navy. Once my parents got married, I was born and my dad had to start cooking for a family the only thing that he said really changed about his cooking style was the breakfasts that he made. He started making more simple breakfast foods like breakfast burritos and scrambled egg sandwiches. He always made eggs with a lot of seasoning; pepper, onion powder, seasoning salt, garlic powder, chopped white and green onions and lots of cheese. When I was a baby my mother never bought baby food. Instead she bought fresh fruits and vegetables, blended them in a food processor, froze them in ice cube trays and thawed them out when it was time for me to eat. According to my dad this is why I was not too much of a picky eater when I was growing up. I ate and enjoyed eating healthy from a young age. I ate a lot of vegetables; broccoli, brussell sprouts, and carrots as long as they had butter and seasoning on them. We ate very little meat other than chicken and we rarely ate out, but my parents never had a problem with getting me to try new things.
Before I asked my father what his favorite dishes to cook were I was pretty sure I knew the answer; His spaghetti and his baked macaroni and cheese. Among family I think his signature dish is macaroni and cheese, that is what he is most often asked to bring when we have family get togethers, however, my favorite dish of his is his spaghetti. I remember when I was young sitting in the kitchen for hours on end watching him go through all the steps to preparing the spaghetti; chopping the bell peppers ad the onions, browning the meat for the sauce, and straining the angel hair pasta all with Louis Armstrong playing in the background.
Growing up my fathers favorite dishes were his mothers Red beans and Ham hocks and his fathers Spaghetti, he also enjoyed when his mother made pot roasts. Like me he was not much of a picky eater either. His favorite food memory was when he was seven years old he and his family traveled to Rhode Island, where both of his parents were born and raised. While back east they visited a seafood restaurant called the Rocky Point. He remembers them having the best New England clam chowder he’d ever tasted as well as hush puppies.
Thursday January 9 our class visited Japan Town in San Francisco for our weekly food tour. Out first sample was a sweet potato Latte. I was not a fan of the drink, I did however find the story of how it became the cafe’s most popular drink more interesting. They played around with advertisements on the chalk board in front of the door for months, even dubbing the cafe “the home of the Sweet Potato Latte.” Still the latte didn’t seem to take, the owners were ready to give up on pushing their new drink when finally the popularity began to shoot through the roof.
My second favorite food of the whole tour came from a small cafe in the mall. It was a fish shaped pastry called Tai Yaki. The outside is a pancake like bread filled with red bean paste. The filling pleasantly surprised me, when I heard the words red bean I did not expect it to be sweet.
Our next stop was also in the mall. We tried Onijiri and green tea. The Onijiri was smoked salmon wrapped in rice and seaweed. The seaweed was extremely crunchy, the rice was fluffy and the salmon was just salty enough. The Onijiri was reminiscent of spam musubi. I am not a big tea drinker and when I do drink tea, I usually use tons of sugar. This tea was not sweet at all, it actually had sort of a toasted taste.
Our final visit was to an Indian Restaurant called Dosa, where we were served the title dish. A Dosa is a crepe like bread filled with Potatoes and spices, paired with two Chutney’s for dipping and a soup. This was by far my favorite dish of the tour, but unfortunately I was unable to finish it due to being full from all of our previous stops.