E komo mai e ‘ai! Come in and eat!
Ready? Time for that glorious four-day weekend of blissfully ignored diets and gratitude-charged gluttony we call Thanksgiving.
The Hawaiian experience is one that is big on food, and as you might imagine, Thanksgiving is an American holiday we embraced with open arms long before our Statehood in 1959. The Hawaiian feast is called the LÅ«‘au, so named for the taro tops (in the picture) that are traditionally served at them. We have Baby LÅ«‘au (the first birthday celebration is a huge affair here), Graduation LÅ«‘au, Wedding LÅ«‘au, Retirement LÅ«‘au ” all major life markers, and every other excuse for a party in between; Housewarming LÅ«‘au, Beach LÅ«‘au, Super Bowl LÅ«‘au ” you get the idea.
With a nod to our ethnic melting pot in the islands, American loyalties, and this ingrained love of food, our Thanksgiving LÅ«‘au goes completely through the roof. Our menu planning is simple: On Thanksgiving any shred of Julia Child/Martha Stewart menu sensibility and designer flair is summarily banished. We cook and serve everyone’s favorites. If someone sitting at the table loves it, it goes perfectly with everything else; it is our ‘ohana-spirited gourmet Thanksgiving LÅ«‘au. I am paying for it for weeks afterwards in extra miles added to my morning run, and it is worth it.
More often than not, it starts with my husband’s version of Boiled Peanuts about two days before (he makes them with Chinese five-spice). On Thanksgiving Day, the TV WILL be set for football, doncha know, and there absolutely must be boiled peanuts and that easy Hidden Valley Ranch dip for the chips. So last night, I returned home late from the airport (and about an hour of mechanically challenged flight delays, sitting on the tarmac) and walked in the door to that enticing anise smell of the five-spice. In his own, oh so predictable way, hubby had announced that no matter what I was coming home from, Thanksgiving had already arrived. My airport-induced travel annoyances magically disappeared, instantly forgotten.
And so my friends, it is time to start our cooking. I’ve just now returned from the market and my final shopping for the rest of our favorites. Filipino-style banana lumpia will have its place of honor, side by side with Vovo’s Portuguese-style coleslaw. Included are the Thanksgiving traditions we eat for remembering the family we’ve been so blessed with. For instance, we eat that true Betty Crocker version of candied yams with marshmallow just because it was my dad’s must-have for the holiday. When we eat it, he’s still at the table with us.
You’ll be there too, when we bow our heads and say mahalo for all who make our lives so profoundly precious everyday. I’ll eat some boiled peanuts for you, okay?
From the archives; It is a day for Thanksgiving