Hawaiian Flavors: A Vacation for Your Taste Buds
Few places conjure distinct ideas about food and dining quite like the Hawaiian Islands. But do you know what role food and traditions have played in Hawaii’s history? Find out here, plus get a recipe that packs all the flavors of Hawaii into one mouthwatering bite.
Although pineapples aren’t native to Hawaii (it’s believed they originated in Paraguay or Brazil), this spiky fruit certainly has impacted the islands’ diversity. At the height of production, Hawaii was responsible for three-quarters of the world’s pineapple supply, which drew workers from all over the world. Today only 10 percent of the Aloha State’s population is native Hawaiian.
With the island’s strong ties to pineapple, Hawaiians are well-versed in creating amazing dishes with it. The sweet, golden fruit can be found in salsas, slaws, marinades, cocktails and desserts. To highlight its sweetness, Hawaiians often grill the pineapple before using it in recipes.
Also prominent in Hawaii are macadamia nuts. The first tree was planted on the islands in the late 1800s, but the industry didn’t get its footing until the mid-20th century. Considering the macadamia nut's early cultivation issues and processing nightmares (its shell is the hardest of any nut), it’s easy to see why it took so long to bring what was once a delicacy for the elite to the masses. And we’re so thankful they persevered. Today, Hawaii exports 90 percent of the world’s macadamia nuts, whose buttery flavor and slightly soft texture are fantastic in baked goods and salads, and the nuts are great simply for snacking on by the handful.
What’s Hawaii without a luau? We’re not sure either. But they weren’t always the all-inclusive celebrations they are today. Originally, men dined separately from women and commoners. But in 1819, Hawaiian King Kamehameha II hosted a feast that shunned traditional etiquette and invited women and his common subjects to eat with him and the other men; the modern luau was born.
Today's luau feasts are served with authentic Hawaiian cuisine such as roasted pulled pork (kalua pig) from an imu oven. An imu oven is a pit that is dug and filled with wood, kindling and large stones, then set on fire. Once the stones are “preheated,” some of them are stuffed inside a prepared pig. The remaining stones in the oven are covered with banana leaves before the pig is lowered on top of them and covered with more leaves and a thick cloth. Once the pit is properly covered, dirt is shoveled onto the cloth to seal in the heat, which slowly bakes the food underground. Several hours later, an incredibly moist and perfectly cooked pig is pulled out of the pit and the feast begins.
Ahhh ... Hawaiian sweet bread. Who doesn’t love this stuff? The very first round, soft loaves of Original Recipe King's Hawaiian Sweet Bread were made in a tiny bakery in Hilo during the 1950s. After growing in popularity, the much-loved original shop expanded and moved to King Street in Honolulu, where it was renamed King's Bakery. It didn't take long for the new location to become a beloved institution, as locals lined up around the block for the famous breads and cakes that were prepared and served with Aloha Spirit, an expression of caring and sharing that is an essential part of island culture.
In honor of these iconic flavors, celebrate Hawaiian Foods Week with irresistible King’s Hawaiian Bread and Sauces. Bring some Aloha Spirit and tropical flavor to your table with King’s Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sliders. Life’s more fun when you share delicious food with family and friends.