Bring the ‘Umeke of Poi to the Table

Bring the ‘Umeke of Poi to the Table

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January 8, 2018

Bring the ‘Umeke of Poi to the Table

by Hokulani Aikau
As a Hawaiian kid who grew up in Utah, poi was a luxury item. We only ate it when someone brought it from “back home.” Poi was so rare I wanted to hoard it, stretch it with water so it would last longer. But my dad rarely kept the poi for just our family, there was always enough to share. Aunties and uncles would be invited to our kitchen to eat poi served with sardines, sweet onions, and tomatoes marinated in shoyu, vinegar and chili pepper water. Laughter and stories filled our home as the poi and mea ʻai (food) filled our opū (belly). In those moments, we did not concern ourselves with how much poi there was or if there would be enough for tomorrow. We did not wonder about who was going to Hawaiʻi next and would they bring us a bag of poi? We did not worry about getting another bag before we were ono (craving) for it? For in that moment, with the ʻumeke (bowl) of poi in the center of the table, all that mattered was the love we shared with each other.

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