Archive for the ‘Hawaiian’ Category

A show of Hawaiian hospitality

November 25th, 2011

Nadine Kam photos

Malcolm Nāea Chun signed copies of his newly released book, “No Nā Mamo,” at the University Lab School on Nov. 10.

To celebrate the release of Malcolm Nāea Chun’s book, “No Nā Mamo,” the Curriculum Research & Development Group and the University of Hawai‘i Press hosted a lū‘au on Nov. 10th, to which Chun invited me with the note, “If you want rice, Nadine, you have to bring it yourself. It’s not that kind of luau.”

I’ve known Malcolm as a foodie for a long time, one who doesn’t particularly like divulging his secret haunts. Considering his Chinese surname, he shouldn’t be such a stickler for pre-contact fare, but it was fitting, considering the material in his book, which offers insights into the philosophy and way of life of Native Hawaiian culture.

The book represents an updated and enlarged compilation of books in the “Ka Wana” series, published in 2005–10. The earlier books have been revised and are presented here as 12 individual chapters that cover such topics as “Pono (the right way of living),” “Ola (health and healing), “A’o (education), “Ho’omana (the sacred and spiritual), “Alaka’i (leadership), and more.

He drew on first-hand accounts from early Hawaiian historians, explorers and missionaries, and 19th-century Hawaiian language publications for the project.

For the sake of this blog, what was fitting was the chapter “Welina,” covering the topic of welcome and hospitality.

Students serve up kalua pig, and below, limu poke and lomilomi salmon.

Here is one of the food-related passages in the book:

“Captain Clerke of the Discovery had been sick when the ships arrived at Kealakekua Bay on the island of Hawai’i and went ashore later than the rest of the party. His welcome was still a chiefly one, for he is presented with a feather cloak and draped with kapa. Salmond (The Trial) provides a bit more detail.

‘When they [Captain Clerke and Dr. Samwell] arrived at the chiefs’ settlement, Palea hurried out to meet them. He was accompanied by an attendant carrying a pig, a chicken and a coconut, and as he greeted them he draped a piece of red cloth around Captain Clerke’s neck, and put a piece of white cloth around Samwell’s shoulders. While his attendant slaughtered two pigs and cooked them for their breakfast, Palea went off and soon returned with a splendid red and yellow feather cloak which he put around Clerke’s shoulders, tying a piece of red cloth around his waist. He set the table himself, spreading plantain leaves on the ground and a piece of fresh white bark-cloth, with five coconuts stripped of their rind, two wooden dishes filled with pork and two platters of cold sweet potatoes. He tore the pork to pieces, chewing it and offering to feed them by hand …’

What was shown, without the fine presentations of gifts to Clerke, is very similar to the later accounts of the missionaries, who came as settlers rather than as tourists. Their curiosity and desire to know more about native culture and behavior, for various reasons including their own surprise, led to some of the most detailed descriptions of traditional hospitality, and it all verifies how commonplace hospitality was.”

Chun also wrote:

“Why is hospitality valued so much among Hawaiians? The most obvious reason is that people traveled long distances and could not carry heavy loads of food and water with them, especially when traveling on foot through hot and arid places such as Nānākuli. One of the most familiar calls in the Hawaiian language, still retained today, is ‘Mai! Hele mai! E ‘ai!’ ‘Come. Come here and eat!’ or ‘E komo mai e ‘ai!’ ‘Come inside and eat!’ ”

Haili’s Hawaiian Foods catered the event, and to show their own hospitality, they brought rice after all, because it’s what everyone expects in 21st century Hawaii!

The book is $40, available at the UH Press website:

Haili’s Hawaiian Foods catered the event, which also included huge opihi.

You can see how big the opihi is, about an inch in diameter, when its compared—in the foreground—against everything else on my plate.