Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hawaii - August 21, 1959

Of the eight states I have yet to visit, Hawaii is the one I most yearn to see. I am not interested so much in watching surfers, or visiting a resort, but in getting away to a place that has to be so completely different than anywhere I've ever been. The book Chicken Soup from the Soul of Hawai'i made this desire only that much stronger.

Although I have a somewhat cyncial personality, I am actually quite a sucker for the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series of books origniated in the 1990s by Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield. These anthologies of feel-good stories can be sappy, but I eat them right up. The special collection of stories from Hawaii did not disappoint, and it made me want to go to Hawaii more than ever. All of the mysticism of the islands, and the aloha spirit of the people came through. What was made clear through these stories is the true sprit of sharing that is an important part of island culture. This spirit goes way beyond boosterism for tourists, it is part of the fabric of life there. The true evidence of this was the sharing of proprietary recipes from three of Hawaii's famous chefs (Sam Choy, Alan Wong, and Roy Yamaguchi) as part of the book, two of which we prepared for our meal tonight.

I was also glad to see one story in which the school library, and librarian played a role "Blueprint for a Dream"  by Laurie Williams and Marc Lee tell of learning about a famous astronaut who graduated from Punahou school many years before them.

One final note is that I was actually uninspired by the sports stories. I am most decidedly not a sports fan, but I found the real problem was that sports "heroes" who write for the Chicken Soup series have a kind of wrap up of their story about believing in yourself and working hard to make your dreams come true. Believing in oneself, and working hard are good pieces of advice to be sure, however, almost all celebrity hopefuls started out doing just that. Only the very few who actually make it big will end up writing about it.

From Here to Eternity is a movie about Hawaii before it was actually a state. Most of the action takes place in the year before the Pearl Harbor attack, which is where the story ends. This is the movie with the iconic love scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr - the waves splashing over the lovers on the beach, which has been recreated in countless other places. This movie, surprisingly, really wasn't very romatic otherwise. The plot involves an attempt to get an army Private (Robert E. Lee Prewitt, played by the strikingly handsome Montgomery Clift) to box for his platoon. Said Private is essentially tortured by the other members, including his officer. The December 7 attack on the base only days before the big boxing match makes it clear how trivial it all was.  It was a bit surreal watching Donna Reed play a "hostess" at a nightclub. A job her character called "two steps up from the pavement."

We created quite a few Hawaiian dishes for our meal this evening. James cooked Sam Choy's Roasted Chicken with Macadamia Nut Stuffing using our new Deep Dish Tumbleweed Pottery Chicken Cooker. It came out delicious and tender. In addition to the macadamia nuts, which James had some trouble finding at the grocery, the stuffing included onions, bacon, celery, apple, mushrooms, parsley, croutons and other seasonings. For our vegetarian daughter we made Maui Sweet Potato Bake, and for dessert we had Roy Yamaguchi's Hot Lava Souffle (or a variation thereof, anyway). No matter, this recipe with semi-sweet chocolate, sugar, cornstarch, butter and eggs was delcious. We had two friends for dinner and every bit of this tasty treat was gobbled. We had some Hawaiian coffee, shipped direct from the islands, to accompany our dessert. James will post separately about that.

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