Beat the winter by dreaming yourself off to a place where tall palms wave in the wind, crystal seas lap golden sands, and a cocktail can be had with a click of the fingers; an archipelago of 137 Pacific islands where we’ll be free and easy and – most importantly – warm! Because while we, in Cyprus, bill ourselves as the perfect Mediterranean destination, it isn’t half cold in January!
In Hawaii right now, it’s about 28 degrees. In six months’ time, it will be about 32 degrees. And – along with perfect shoreline, spectacular volcanoes, verdant jungle, and exotic wildlife – that’s the beauty of the tropics. Mostly warm and balmy, it has the perfect climate for growing taro, or kalo as it’s known in the islands. A root vegetable, taro is the main ingredient in what is arguably the 50th state’s official dish: poi. And while taro itself is common in foods around the world, only Hawaiians make poi.
Like many a national dish, poi is apparently an acquired taste. In terms of consistency and appearance, it’s a bit like wallpaper paste: brown and viscous. And first-time poi’ers claim it’s pretty similar in flavour too. But the locals go all out to produce a tangier, slightly sour, and invariably more tasty concoction, fermenting the pulverised root for three or four days, and adding exactly the right amount of water for the perfect consistency. Which makes sense, given that poi is the Hawaiian equivalent of bread: enjoyed as a standalone dish at breakfast, as a dip with appetisers, as an indispensable feature of the luau, and even as a first food for babies.
Of course there’s more to island cuisine than poi. There’s also poke, a traditional Native Hawaiian dish of diced raw fish served with sea salt, candlenut, and seaweed. And modern cuisine includes a noodle soup known as samin, and loco moco, which is basically a hamburger on rice topped with a fried egg and gravy.