The Hawai’ian Islands before the State
If we want to explore an island close to home and it’s fascinating food history, we don’t have to look any further than Hawaii! Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States in 1959. The 1950’s saw a rise in the love of all things Hawaiian and tropical after the soldiers returned home after World War II. Many were stationed in these tropical locations. Before that, Hawaii was a kingdom of its own with an amazing history, its own language, religion and culture. Even today, Hawaii keeps a lot of its ancient traditions.
Since then, Hawaii has grown into its own and has become an amazing tropical destination. It’s a melding of many different cultures. Hawaiian cuisine is inspired by Asian, American and Polynesian food traditions. The first inhabitants of Hawaii were Polynesian wayfares who brought many of these foods with them. But what kind of foods would you have found at a traditional luau or Hawaiian celebration before Europeans arrived? Here are a few offerings:
- Poi (Pounded Taro Root)
- Kalua Pig (Roasted, Pulled Pork)
- ‘Uala (Purple Sweet Potato)
- Seaweed Salad
- Coconut Milk
- Ulu (Breadfruit)
- Baked Bananas
- Tropical Fruits
- Fresh Fish and Shellfish
Later, when Europeans discovered and arrived in Hawaii, they introduced the Hawaiians to such foods as salmon, coffee, beef and rice. For awhile, Hawaii grew most of America’s pineapples. There were many pineapple plantations as well as farms and plantations that grew coffee, macadamia nuts and sugarcane.