Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Got Poi?

The title of this post is a bumper sticker one sees a lot here in Hawai‘i. But the slogan is not just an amusing riff on the milk ad; it’s a fact that—unlike cow’s milk, which can have ill effects on humans—poi is one of the most nutritious and healthy foodstuffs in the world, being high in fiber, as well as vitamins A and C.

the finished batch of two-finger poi

made by my neighbor Anya and me

Poi was a staple of the ancient Hawaiians, and remained so until around the middle of the last century, when the advent of the Western diet and the increased cost of taro led to its decline. (Here is a cute video about poi with some vintage footage.) But as with other aspects of Hawaiian culture, poi has experienced a comeback over the past few decades. Festivals now celebrate the art of poi-pounding, and one can find the dish on menus and at grocery stores.