Last week, my mother informed me that there is an acute shortage of poi in the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere. Whereas I have many things to blog about, this could very well be the most important, curious, and pressing.
Are we on the brink of a poi famine?
The Uwajimaya Connection
Anxious to confirm or dispel the truth of my mother's apocalyptic claim, I arrived at Uwajimaya Foods (which caters to Microsoft's large Pacific Rim population) last Thursday at 11AM. Thursday is poi delivery day. I located a nearly-empty crate of poi near the papayas and discretely placed 5, 1 lb bags in my basket. At the checkout stand, I grabbed a few bags of Li Hing Moi and thought, 'If there really is a poi shortage, I should stock up now'.
"Please add 5 more bags of poi," I instructed the cashier, "I'll pick them up on my way out." By the time I left Uwajimaya's, no bags of poi remained. I have not confirmed that this was the extent of their weekly poi ration but it probably was.
Bobby's Restaurant Confirms
On Friday night, my family met at Bobby's Hawaiian restaurant in Everett, which is north of Redmond and Seattle. Bobby's is a good place for island grinds. The atmosphere is very ohana and could as easily be in Waianae as in Everett, WA. Upon receipt of our menus my brother asked about a combo plate, which he had seen online, apparently. The waitress explained that they no longer serve luau plates because so many haoles leave uneaten portions of poi and lomi lomi on their plats... a sacriledge! So now, you have to order them as sides.
"Is this related to the poi shortage?" I inquired.
"Yes, it is," the waitress replied.
This weekend, my brother Kord and his lovely bride, Shane will be wed on the shores of something wet in northern Idaho. A roasted kalua pig will be unearthed from its pit. Laulaus and haupia and lomi lomi salmon will be prepared and consumed in great quantities. My mother will don her muumuu and dance the hula, no doubt. And despite the worldwide dearth, my future relatives and family will be treated to all the sticky, two-finger poi they can eat. Aloha!
BTW, another great place for Hawaiian eats in the Pacific Northwest is in downtown Kirkland, at the Waimea Brewing Company, a restaurant whose original location on Kauai occupies a very special place in my heart.