Our post about the food scene in Papeete, Tahiti was one of the most popular posts ever on this site. The obvious conclusion: I should become a South Pacific food critic. You may think I’m not qualified, because I’ve spent no more than 25 days or so in the South Pacific, and that’s generously assuming we count New Zealand and Australia. You may think a South Pacific food critic should be a big jolly rotund character who loves food, not a picky eater with a skinny frame. But, we must follow where called, so here is our latest dispatch, on the food scene in Honolulu.
Above are the dumplings of the day (a spiced beef, on this particular day) at Koko Head Cafe, Lee Ann Wong’s (of Top Chef) brunch spot in the cool, chill Kaimuki neighborhood. Fantastic for post-hike feasts.
The Don Buri Chen is no joke, and the fish eggs are serious as well.
Shave ice, of course, this is at Kokonuts:
Obama’s flavors are said to be Lemon Lime and Cherry, went with Lemon Lime and cocoanut, maybe because they were toasting cocoanut inside which aromated the strip mall joint in a most pleasing way.
Musubi, Japanese seaweed and rice-wrapped pyramid sandwiches, very solid. I’m not into the classic spam musubi, ground beef and tuna both solid and satisfying:
That’s from Mana Musubi, which was sold out by Friday around 11 am. What a packable food!
Piggy Smalls, offshoot of The Pig and the Lady, is making incredible new Vietnamese food in a former burger joint location:
Failed to photograph the Burmese Tea Salad before devouring. We intended to visit the legendary shrimp trucks of the North Shore, but were stopped by torrential downpour, luckily this hit us just as we rolled up on Aloha Shrimp Truck in Hauula. (Remember when pronouncing Hawaiian words: there are no silent letters).
Simple? Yes. Excellent? Yes.
A beloved Oahu institution is Zippy’s fast food, which has a pretty extensive menu and some baked goods as well. Had to try the Zap Pak and the Surf Pak.
Look, is it delicious? Kind of. Is it convenient? Also kind of.
Fête in downtown Honolulu rules:
Ridiculous Italian food with local Hawaiian-raised meats and ingredients.
The queen of Oahu foodstuffs however must be the poke you can buy by the pound at the counter in the back of Tamara’s liquor store, there are several locations:
You eat that on a cracker and you’re having a great time. This is the classic tuna in Tamara’s sauce. I became a poke convert.
For some Hawaiian food/plate lunch classics, Highway Inn, several locations.
A good poi introduction.
The Oahu institution we failed to try was Leonard’s for malasadas, but Pipeline, around the corner from Koko Head, seemed excellent.
For freshness, invention, and wild array of influences, Honolulu gotta be in the conversation as a food destination. The cuisine skews a bit fatty and decadent, I must say, a salad seems harder to come by than a mai tai, but if you’re cutting loose on vacay and pairing with some outdoor adventures, it’s pretty grand.
Maximum mahalo to friend and local guide Kim H. for knowing all the spots!
Hawaii has kept low Covid #s in part by taking great care in letting people in, you must produce a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of departure. And not just any Covid test, a Hawaii-approved test. Don’t be like this knucklehead and take the wrong kind of test!
Look, once you get the original Hawaii 5-0 theme in your head, it’s hard to get out, but man, is that the best TV opening ever?
This is Amos Alcott, Louisa May’s father, fictionalized as Bob Odenkirk in the latest Little Women film:
from The Flowering of New England by Van Wyck Brooks, a vivid read. Imagine this man chowing down on strawberry potatoes:
Struck by how much the visuals of these two, Boris Johnson and EU president Ursula von der Leyen, look like a Black Mirror version of Trump and Hillary.
The group dined on a starter of pumpkin soup with scallops; a main of steamed turbot, mashed potatoes with wasabi and vegetables; and a desert of pavlova with exotic fruit and coconut sorbet. It was fitting that fish featured on the menu, given arrangements for fisheries is one of three outstanding sticking points in the trade talks, and particularly scallops, which were the subject of clashes between British and French fishermen in 2018.
source. Love the idea of pointedly serving someone fish.
Ursula von der Leyen is interesting. She has seven children? And maybe plagarized her doctoral thesis?
Von der Leyen’s father’s grandparents were the cotton merchant Carl Albrecht (1875–1952) and Mary Ladson Robertson (1883–1960), an American who belonged to a plantation owning family of the southern aristocracy from Charleston, South Carolina. Her American ancestors played a significant role in the British colonization of the Americas, and she descends from many of the first English settlers of Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Barbados, and from numerous colonial-era governors. Among her ancestors were Carolina governors John Yeamans, James Moore, Robert Gibbes, Thomas Smith and Joseph Blake, Pennsylvania deputy governor Samuel Carpenter, and the American revolutionary and lieutenant governor of South Carolina James Ladson. The Ladson family were large plantation owners and her ancestor James H. Ladson owned over 200 slaves by the time slavery in the United States was abolished; her relatives and ancestors were among the wealthiest in British North America in the 18th century, and she descends from one of the largest British slave traders of the era, Joseph Wragg.
Boris Johnson for his part has been getting away with stuff his whole life. As with the naughty schoolboys of my youth, I have a desire both to see him “caught” and punished and also to see him get away with it. He seems to thrive in the space where, like, a Dec 31 deadline looms, and there’s lots of technical details to work out, and he’s barely started.
I’ve created a new taxonomy of food, I believe it is correct.
There are three types of food:
All foods can be fit into these categories.
Yes, what is bread?
Bread is stuffing, obviously.
Potatoes are a plant, aren’t–
Let me stop you right there, potatoes are stuffing. Fries are stuffing, chips are stuffing, mashed potatoes are stuffing. Potatoes in all forms are stuffing, you know this.
All corn is stuffing. Most American stuffing comes in the form of compressed corn.
What are carrots?
Carrots are plant. Boiled, mushy carrots approach stuffing, this is because you’ve beaten out of them their plant nature. The highest forms of cooking retain the true nature of the meat or plant. The cooking and preparations of stuffing take wider forms.
What is cheese?
All dairy is stuffing, again, you know this in your heart.
What about ice cream? Ice cream is its own thing.
I’m willing to accept those who create a mental category called “ice,” “ices,” or “ice cream” which includes Popsicles, sherbets, etc. I think you’re being dishonest with yourself though if you don’t accept that ice cream is a form of stuffing, however joyful and harmless.
What about fish?
Hmm ok I guess we were including fish with meat but I will allow fish as its own category. There are four types of food,
What is soup?
Vegetable soup? Plant. If there’s a potato in there, that’s stuffing. Corn of any kind is stuffing.
OK what is miso soup?
That is a liquid.
Wait a —
There is a category called “spice,” if you insist miso soup could be a spice, along with salt, bbq sauce, gravy etc, things we eat that are not in the three food categories.
What is a tomato?
Some call it spice, and we respect that, but it is plant.
What about the cheese on a pizza?
Stuffing, as is the crust. Pizza is a stuffing food, even if it contains some plant (tomato, if you believe tomato to be a plant not a spice).
What is a McDonald’s Chicken Nugget*?
Great question, let’s say the answer together on three, one, two, three, stuffing, you said stuffing didn’t you? Because it is stuffing.
For that matter, some low-quality burgers are in fact not meat but stuffing. I’d suggest even a 100% beef burger, if made from corn-fed, lot-processed beef, is stuffing. And the cheese is stuffing, and the bun is stuffing. That’s why it’s so important to get lettuce on there, so at least you get plant.
In what proportion should I eat these foods?
Look, that’s up to you, I’m not here to dictate diets which I think are VERY personal and person-specific. But we do feel that being honest about this taxonomy, saying to yourself “this is stuffing, I’m eating stuffing,” keeping track of how much of each category you eat, may be helpful towards establishing nourishing and sustaining and sustainable food habits.
What’s an apple?
Stuffing. The vanilla ice cream scoop is possibly “ice cream,” its at the very least a different kind of stuffing, but we don’t let ourselves get sidetracked into subcategories. Short answer, stuffing.
(I’ve got him now, watch this:) Excuse me, what about apple pie?
Stuffing, please leave.
What about my beloved bivalves, oysters and clams?
Those are meat, or if you insist, fish. Lobster is stuffing, as is any crab whose carapace is larger than a quarter.
What about like a chip, but it’s made out of lettuce? Some kind of Veggie Crisp?
Plant covered in stuffing.
I don’t think I have any more questions, thank you.
You’re welcome, please enjoy these categories and spread them widely.
The comments roll in:
Fish is meat and lobster is fish.
Agree that fish is meat. Lobster is stuffing. A lobster eats meat (fish) or stuffing (waste, carrion, etc) and turns it into more stuffing. It does not magically turn stuffing into fish. Unfortunately, by the way, would be great if it did!
(Getting some pushback on this. Maybe lobster is meat)
What is a chickpea?
Stuffing! Look, there’s nothing wrong with many stuffings, especially natural stuffings. They have an important place in any diet! My favorite food is spaghetti, a stuffing! (with tomato sauce, a spice/plant).
Hello! Some questions from @ccheever and me: what about eggs (hard boiled or sunny-side up no stuffing/frills)? What about tofu (also by itself), which could fit any of the 3 categories?
Hi Helen! Eggs are… meat! Once it becomes an omelette, an egg is stuffing. Tofu is stuffing!
What about nuts?
Nuts are stuffing.
Ok one more: cauliflower. Seems like the stuffing of vegetables.
What about mushrooms?
This is a tricky one. Fungi is special. But I will say 90% of mushrooms are served as stuffing.
* Bourdain had many funny takes on the McNugget, here’s one from a 2014 interview with Kam Williams, Baltimore Black:
AB: I think it’s very hard to make an argument that a Chicken McNugget is either chicken or a nugget? If you’re eating unwholesome, street food in a country where they have to make do with whatever scraps are left to them, at least you know what it is, and generally have some sense of where it came from. Whereas a McNugget, to my way of thinking, is a Frankenfood whose name doesn’t necessarily reflect what it is. I’m still not sure what it is. Listen, Kam, when drunk, I will eat a McNugget. It’s not the worst tasting thing in the world, but it’s one of the things I’m least likely to eat, because I choose not to.
is the Food Pyramid the greatest conspiracy of all time?
This was EVERYWHERE when I was a kid, firmer and more common than the Ten Commandments.
I’m sure there’s a podcast about it, or a Slate piece.
Maybe my new thing will be “mild conspiracy theories” (the conspiracies themselves will be mild, not the theories. The theories will be wild).
It’s always for James Suckling! Literally the last thing I need a class in is appreciating wine more. I’m already at a high level of appreciating, I appreciate it a ton, probably too much.
Imagine being like “hmm I hate wine, maybe I’ll pay $80 to learn how to like it from the computer!”
Although Suckling is a noted supporter of Bordeaux wine, as illustrated by his blog response to a Bordeaux-critical article by Eric Asimov, he also has affinity for Italian wines, having stated that he feels Italian grape varieties such as Sangiovese, Aglianico, and Nebbiolo are thoroughly unique. Conversely he has on occasion spoken dismissively of New World wines, applying the term “jam juice”.
Get outta here with that, Suckling!
Some books give value just with their title. I’d say I think about the title of Clayton Christensen’s book about once every two weeks or so. Most of what’s in the book can be found in Christensen’s 2010 speech on that theme.
This theory addresses the third question I discuss with my students—how to live a life of integrity (stay out of jail). Unconsciously, we often employ the marginal cost doctrine in our personal lives when we choose between right and wrong. A voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people shouldn’t do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK.” The marginal cost of doing something wrong “just this once” always seems alluringly low. It suckers you in, and you don’t ever look at where that path ultimately is headed and at the full costs that the choice entails. Justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all their manifestations lies in the marginal cost economics of “just this once.”
I also find myself often thinking of an anecdote about milkshake purchases Christensen describes in the book:
The company then enlisted the help of one of Christensen’s fellow researchers, who approached the situation by trying to deduce the “job” that customers were “hiring” a milkshake to do. First, he spent a full day in one of the chain’s restaurants, carefully documenting who was buying milkshakes, when they bought them, and whether they drank them on the premises. He discovered that 40 percent of the milkshakes were purchased first thing in the morning, by commuters who ordered them to go.
The next morning, he returned to the restaurant and interviewed customers who left with milkshake in hand, asking them what job they had hired the milkshake to do. Christensen details the findings in a recent teaching note, “Integrating Around the Job to be Done.”
“Most of them, it turned out, bought [the milkshake] to do a similar job,” he writes. “They faced a long, boring commute and needed something to keep that extra hand busy and to make the commute more interesting. They weren’t yet hungry, but knew that they’d be hungry by 10 a.m.; they wanted to consume something now that would stave off hunger until noon. And they faced constraints: They were in a hurry, they were wearing work clothes, and they had (at most) one free hand.”
The milkshake was hired in lieu of a bagel or doughnut because it was relatively tidy and appetite-quenching, and because trying to suck a thick liquid through a thin straw gave customers something to do with their boring commute.
Something illuminating about food as something to do.
Understanding the job to be done, the company could then respond by creating a morning milkshake that was even thicker (to last through a long commute) and more interesting (with chunks of fruit) than its predecessor. The chain could also respond to a separate job that customers needed milkshakes to do: serve as a special treat for young children—without making the parents wait a half hour as the children tried to work the milkshake through a straw. In that case, a different, thinner milkshake was in order.
In the book, Christensen also goes on about how parents have to say no very often, and a milkshake is a relatively easy “yes.”
Going through some photos on my phone. Some delicious pasta I had downtown.
How about a Zen story?
from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.
This one came up on Succession, a fave show. (Had to look it up because I wondered if they were doing a double joke where the guy was attributing Emerson to Thoreau)
Usually I’ll approach with tentative openness the pastoralist, simpler times, “trad” adjacent arguments of weirdbeards but Thoreau here WAY off. Maine and Texas had TONS to communicate! Who isn’t happy Maine and Texas can check in? (Saying this as a Maine fan whose wife is from Texas, fond of both states and happy for their commerce and exchange). Plus, if Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough, I WANT to hear that, that’s interesting goss!
The “broad flapping American ear” there — a snooty New England/aristocrat attitude we haven’t heard the last of. These guys are the original elites. There’s really two classes in America: Americans, and The People Who Think They’re Better Than Americans. Though they’re a tiny minority the second group wields outside power and influence over the first group. I’m a proud member of the first group though I admit I have second group tendencies due to my youthful indoctrination in the headquarters of these Concord Extremist Radicals, in fact at their head madrassa.
When you hear America assessed by Better Thans / eggheads, wait for the feint toward fatshaming. It’s always in there somewhere. American Better Thans adopted this from Europeans, whom they slavishly ape. It’s a twisted attitude, designed to take blame away from the Better Thans and their friends in the ownership.
As if it’s Americans fault that they’ve been raised associating corn-based treats with love and goodness! Or that corn-fatted meat is the easiest accessed protein on offer! You think that’s more the Americans fault, or the fault of the Better Thans, who manipulate our food system with their only goal creating shareholder value?
Is it the fault of the American that a cold soda is the best cheap pleasure in the hot and dusty interior where they don’t all have Walden Pond as a personal spa?
Thoreau. Guy makes me sick.
In researching this article I learn about Maine-ly Sandwiches, of Houston.
The King [Dingaan, of the Zulus] loved display. He surrounded himself with plump women, jesters and dwarfs. He liked to show off his famous glutton Menyosi, who could eat a whole goat in a single meal
which I’m finding highly entertaining and informative. Jan Morris, what a boss.
up in Canada. I’d tell you the name of the restaurant but you’d think it was a joke.
When you are at Craig’s you are on the Arkansas Pie Trail:
There are many famous and intriguing streets in New Orleans – Royal, Esplanade, Canal, Basin, Magazine, St. Claude Avenue, St. Charles Avenue, Chartres – but a street that caught my interest is Tchoupitoulas.
Traveled this street while on my way back from Domilise’s, which David Chang once claimed serves the coldest beer in the world.
Tchoupitoulas runs alongside the Mississippi. There is an enormously long, apparently vacant structure that runs along the river and the railroad tracks.
I asked a bartender at Cavan in the Irish Channel about this structure. She told me it’s a set of wharves and warehouses, many of them still privately owned. It was said, according to her, that somewhere under this place Marie Laveau had once had her voodoo church.
“The Wild Tchoupitoulas” were a band of Mardi Gras Indians, who in 1976, with the help of the Neville Brothers and some members of The Meters, recorded an album based on their chants.
Viewers of Treme will recall that Steve Zahn’s character and his girlfriend Annie Tee have a discussion when they move in together about whether they need to keep both of their two CDs of The Wild Tchoupitoulas.
Next time I’m on Tchoupitoulas I’m going to visit Hansen’s Sno-Bliz.
It is one of the world’s great ports of call, comparing with nostalgic and wonderful names like Rangoon, Singapore, Shanghai, Valparaiso and Acapulco. Yet it is grander than any of these, for at Papeete the ships of many seas dock right along the main street. From the stern of a Hong Kong junk to the post office is twenty yards. From the bowlines of a San Pedro yacht to the bank is one city block. Without qualification I can say that the waterfront of Papeete, with Moorea in the background, is unequaled.Yet many visitors despite Papeete. They have no words strong enough to descrive its shanties, its poor water, the crowded alleys, honky-tonks, bootleg opium, wildcat gambling and rapacious prices. They say, “You hear about the glamorous beaches, but you can’t find one where the average yokel is allowed to swim.” Such critics leave in a hurry and complain endlessly to friends back home that “everyone who ever wrote about Tahiti from Pierre Loti to Frederick O’Brien is a liar.” As a much-disappointed frined of mine said, “Papeete? What a bust! Tia Juana without tequila.”There is much to the comparison, for Papeete does resemble a Mexican border town, not so dirty along the main streets, dirtier in the alleys. To those who insist that all picturesque towns look like Siena or Stratford-on-Avon, Papeete will be disappointing, but to others who love the world in all its variety, the town is fascinating. My own judgment: any town that wakes each morning to see Moorea is rich in beauty.
I like the cluttered streets and the neat parks, the narrow alleys and the wide verandahs, the jumbled stores each with some one unpredictable thing for sale “En Vente Ici. Dernier Arrivage. Campbell Soup.” I like the noisy poolrooms, the perfume shops, the policemen on rickety bicycles, the Chinese dress shops with sewing machines whirring like mad, the dreadful hotels, the worse ice-cream stands and the happy faces. It has been aptly said of Papeete, “It drives Englishmen, schoolteachers and efficiency experts crazy.” There is something childishly delightful about every aspect of the place. One movie house advertises the Hunchback of Notre Dame as “Supersensational, Archiformidable, Hyperprodigieux!!!!” Whereupon the competition states baldly of Rene Clair’s Le Million: “The best motion picture in the world.”
One thing I was surprised by in Papeete was how much I liked the food. The market is full of fresh, wonderful stuff.
There you can get a baquette stuffed with meat (pork or chicken) and french fries.
At night the roulettes are the place to be.
Peugot food trucks.
The staple is poisson cru, a cocoanut milk ceviche. Grilled mahi mahi seen here, too.
Further out of town you can buy a boiled breadfruit:
Nourishing but it needs a little something. Salt’s a good start.
saw this on Bloomberg, but I don’t think it really tracks. Maybe just the specific combination of regular milk, one egg, two slices of toast, and one fruit, an ideal of breakfast we can probably say evolved in Europe, is just easier to get in North America and Europe than it is in sub-Saharan Africa?
As Bloomberg notes:
Bloomberg picked the four food items based on widely available commodities that allow for price comparisons globally. What people across the world actually eat for their first meal of the day varies from egg-and-potato tacos in Mexico City to fried pork buns in Shanghai to cooked fava beans in Cairo.
Damn all those sound good.
In my own experience trying to get breakfast in Latin America or Asia, you might not be able to get milk, an egg, two slices of toast, and one fruit, but you can easily and inexpensively get say pupusas or a tasty medu vada or something.
Still, the point they are going for, worth considering:
The 30 cities with the least affordable breakfasts were largely concentrated in South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa. Many of these regions suffer from food insecurity, or limited access to affordable and nutritious food, which can lead to additional problems such as disease and even death.
In Accra and Lagos, the two cities with the least affordable food prices, the standard breakfast would take more than 2 hours of work to purchase. The index would show an even more staggering disparity if Caracas were included. However, due to hyperinflation and the complex currency situation, that nation’s capital was excluded from this year’s list.
New Orleans heaved a collective sigh of relief when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that Gulf seafood was safe to eat. The sigh was premature. The FDA made its assessment using the model of a 176-pound adult who ate, for example, just four shrimp per week. Yes 75% of women in the United States weigh less than this, as do nearly all children. Gulf residents also generally consume a far larger and more diverse seafood diet than the one considered by the FDA…
from this incredible atlas of New Orleans.
Christine Baskets room service order on a Baskets ep, catchin’ up.