Known for its magical hula dance routines, bonfires, live volcanoes and crystal-clear waterways, the Hawaiian Islands provide a relaxing oasis for people young and old who want to spend time feasting their eyes on some of the most beautiful natural sites of the world. Rory Brown believes it is a destination for newlyweds who want to bask in the sunshine before embarking on their lives together, it is a place for those who want to enjoy a tropical warm weather vacation, and it is a place for those who want to learn about the history and culture of the region.
Hawaii is rich with diversity, with cultural roots stemming from countries like Polynesia, China, Japan, Portugal, and the Philippines. This melting pot of different cultures can be found on the plates served at local restaurants, luaus, and cafes each day; and residents invite visitors and locals alike to sit down, indulge, and explore their new favorite taste.
History of Hawaiian Food Culture
Thanks to a sugar plantation boom that took place in the 1850s, immigrants from Polynesia and Asia flocked to the Hawaiian Islands in search of a better life and better wages. Along with a mass migration of these cultures, came cuisine that would shape the culinary future of the region and delight the palettes of all who visited in the future.
The Chinese were the first immigrants to arrive to Hawaii and brought with them the rice that became a staple in Hawaiian side dishes and the base ingredient for fluffy meat stuffed buns, as well as saimin noodle soups often savored with locally grown vegetables and meats.
By the late 1880s, Japanese immigrants arrive and introduced a variety of different herbal teas, fish cakes, nori encased finger foods, and several rice noodle dishes.
You can thank the Portuguese influence in Hawaii for all of the mouthwatering jelly and custard filled sweet pastries that can be found at local bakeries on the islands.
In the early 1900s, the Filipinos came bearing generation old recipes for flavorful vinegar spike meat soups, lumpia, purple sweet potato pudding and more.
The Hawaiian dinner table offers guests a variety of delicious and flavorful dishes fused of classic homestyle dishes from all over the world.
Local Food Favorites
So, what can you expect to see the locals dining on around Hawaii?
Regarded as being the SPAM capital of the world, this processed canned meat, spiced ham to be exact, made its debut in Hawaii during the height of World War II as a means of feeding hungry military personnel, and has been incorporated into just about every type of dish imaginable ever since. SPAM is a staple on the islands - served with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
While you are out and about strolling around the villages or heading out to the beach, stop by a local convenience store, cafe, or food truck and grab some steaming hot manapua buns. These pork filled rice flour buns are sweet and savory at the same time, and are perfect for quick meals on the go.
Poke bowls are another popular culinary treat around the islands and feature fresh caught raw tuna, rice, local vegetables, and drizzled with various Asian sauces. Poke bowls can be found at local cafes or the various food trucks that line the city streets. They provide a refreshing quick-serve meal for people who are on-the-go.
You can also refresh after a fun day exploring the natural wonders of the area with a cold bowl of shaved ice. Unlike the shaved ice concoctions, you would find at many other vacation destinations, the sweet treats offered on menus of this region are loaded with fresh fruits and soaked with all-natural juices.
No matter what your reason for visiting Hawaii, you are sure to be in for a culinary treat while you are there. Hawaii is a melting pot of delicious international cuisine that provides comfort for the soul and an experience for the palette. Whether you are in the mood for a whole fire roasted pig or some fresh caught sushi, discover all of the choices available on the Hawaiian table.
About Rory Brown: After spending the first 40 years of his life in the United States, Rory Brown decided to focus on the quality of life and began living internationally. He now spends his time in Charleston, South Carolina, Sydney, Australia, Lake Como, Italy, and Kauai, Hawaii. His appreciation for simple health food that embraces local traditions of excellence has earned him credit among farm-to-table communities everywhere he goes.
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