There is a juice here called Pog or POG, short for Passion-Orange-Guava juice. There are variants: passion-orange, orange-gauva, etc. You would think it would be excellent. It is really just high fructose corn syrup and a small injection of juice.
But Kory likes it, so I buy it. For the first week, even the kids wouldn’t drink it unless it was diluted with bubbly water. But somehow–I suspect for the same reason that upon arriving we suddenly crave mai tais, and my normally un-fruity husband starts talking about lava flows–the kids now like the POG. I am trying to learn that it’s okay for them to drink this stuff a few days a year.
And “Don’t hog the pog” has become a universal epithet for taking more than your fair share of anything: pog, rice, tomatoes, too much room on the stairs, the boogie board…
On Saturday, we woke up late, which meant a late start for the North Shore. I neglected to eat breakfast, so by the time we stopped in Lihue to replace the Ella’s cheesy dancing hula girl miniature that Finley had broken the night before, and got to Hanalei, it was 11 am. The farmer’s market, which we loved last year, was a huge disappointment, due to a massive downpour which meant few stalls. When I dashed out from the tent under which we had sheltered, Ella and Finn devoured my raspberry coconut twist-pastry thing, which was really good and island-y–and I wouldn’t have minded sharing so much, but they had already eaten a banana muffin and a mango muffin.
We stopped for a fish taco, but they were $10 each and I figured they couldn’t possibly be any better than the truly superb ones we get every week at Sancho’s, so we passed, and that meant Shave Ice Paradise for lunch. Not my healthiest food decision, but none of us minded one bit.
We at the pretty pedestrian picnic lunch I had packed on Aninni beach: hard boiled eggs, cheese, bread, mangos and bananas from the market, rice crackers. But on the way home I was hungry and had a headache, and the kids were tired and had already devoured the rest of the rice crackers and peanut butter crackers, and Kory wanted shave ice again, so we stopped at a roadside truck, so Kory could test his theory about whether trucks on the side of the road serve better things than actual storefront.
His theory was disproven.
Dinner was Annie’s instant mac ‘n cheese for the kids, and steamed green beans from the market. They pretty much fell asleep in their plates.
Kory & I picked up some poke and ocean salad and steamed rice on the lanai, which was actually pretty great.
The Sunshine Market in Koloa Town is not your average farmer’s market. For one thing, wild banana trees:
and Jackfruit trees:
line the parking lot, which is along a large playing field.
For another, it begins at 12 noon, sharp. One of the farmers greets the customers, who wait at the end of a long driveway at the entrance to the market. You must, absolutely be there early and be at the front of the small crowd of locals and tourists. The host allows those who need extra time to walk, those with disabilities, the older customers, those with small children, to walk into the market first. Then, he leads the rest of the group into the market, and when everyone is there together, he blows a conch shell, and the buying begins. Sometimes, there are only a few bags of greens in the whole market, which is the reason for arriving promptly and getting to the farmers who may or may not have that lettuce or spinach.
The market is a great place, with an abundance of fruit familiar and exotic. It makes it very easy for us to eat in the same sort of way we do at home, but with very different ingredients, and some of the same ingredients that just taste different because they’re grown here. Ella and Finn both know how a market works and why we go, and that most things there are good, so it’s sort of an adventure.
The Koloa market is not fancy. They’re aren’t any crafts, or touristy things, just local farmers selling out of their trucks and off a few folding tables. Everything is bagged and/or marked in masking tape. Lots of Hawaiian farmers, a few white locals, many elderly, some middle-aged. Some will tell you their things are pesticide free, or organic. Mostly I don’t ask. I’ve been to other markets where you can see the stickers still on the fruit, or the commercial packing boxes in the back of the van, but this one seems to be mostly local people selling things that they grow. Sometimes, they seem to be selling things that just happen to grow abundantly in their back yard.
Finn got a couple of free bananas.
Ella got a beautiful $5 lei, an ice cold coconut, and a free gardenia for her hair.
We got a couple of not-very-nice-looking but incredibly sweet and mild, low-acid pineapples:
My beloved, fiddlehead ferns, which I look forward to every year, and which are a little like an island version of asparagus. I know they can be gotten elsewhere, but elsewhere, they woudn’t taste like they had just been hauled out of rich red dirt.
I got a bag of mountain apples, which are mild and sweet, and sort of suprising. Ella and I have come to like them. Kory thinks they’d be really good if you were in the mountains. And had nothing else to eat.
Flowers, for a third of what I’d pay for them in California:
I grabbed some great greens, but passed on an amazing squash, curled on the asphalt underneath a table, looking nearly alive.
The radishes really are as big as they look, and the tomatoes, cucumbers, mangos–all the familiar things taste like slightly askew versions of themselves. But of course, askew is the wrong word, because they taste exactly like they were grown here. Themselves, but different.
Next week, I am going to try a banana bloom, which is as large as my son’s head, and which, apparently, you can stir-fry. I knew bananas grew on trees, I suppose, but I didn’t know how and I certainly didn’t know about the blooms, which are simply gorgeous.
My daughter Ella admits that apple bananas look awful, but taste really, really good. They’re best when they have a good number of brown spots, and they’re about half the size of commercial bananas we get on the mainland, and they taste just like, well, a banana should taste.
After nap today, I was looking for a snack, and cut open our first strawberry papaya. The kids had never seen one, and I’m not a particular fan, but we try things.
It looks otherworldly, bright orange, fleshy, fertile, The aroma is really earthy. Both kids and Kory used other words to describe it.
Even after scooping out the seeds, slicing out the flesh like a melon, it was not a hit. So I tried the passion fruit, which you can see for yourself is even more alien-looking to people who have not grown up eating tropical fruit.
You scoop out the seeds with a spoon, which are sweet and tart and bright tasting. It’s really good, but after the papaya, Ella and Finn weren’t trusting me so much.
I hate to waste food, especially from a farmer. So, I made smoothies. Which were a big hit.