The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.
The lens of a camera can only capture bits and pieces of the island's beauty. Some of the sights have been breathtaking, such as this waterfall cascading into a pool. The essence of these vista views where captured by the above quote.
The Plate Lunch
The Hawaiian plate lunch originates from the plantation days dating back to 1880’s. The Hawaiian culinary staple, the plate lunch, is said to have its roots among plantation laborers who came from Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal and other areas.
Workers needed hearty lunches and would pile leftover rice and meats into 3 different metal tins that stacked together as one unit called kau kau tins.
When the plantation era ended, these carb heavy lunches remained thanks to early entrepreneurs who launched the lunch wagon in the 1930’s. These wagons are predecessors to food trucks today.
A “plate lunch” in its simplest form today is 2 scoops of sticky white rice, a side of macaroni salad (laden with mayo) and some protein in the form of an entrée of chicken, beef or pork. The entrees show a mix of culture and ethnicities of the islands.
Reusable kau kau tins have been reincarnated and are now called to-go containers with compartments for different food items.
The “plate lunch” went from being served on round paper plates covered with wax paper or parchment paper bound with a rubber band to foam containers called clamshells.The “plate lunch” has a long history with cultural significance. It represents Hawaii’s melting pot of flavors. If you are visiting the islands it is a lunch specialty not to be missed. You just have to overlook the carbs and cholesterol.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Cook’s notes: Macaroni salad is one of the most popular side dishes served at plate lunches in Hawaii. The most popular version is the simplest: elbow macaroni, mayonnaise, grated carrots and salt and pepper. The following recipe is my version.
Optional items to add are ham cubes, or cooked shrimp which is shown in photo
- 6 cups cooked macaroni
- ½ -3/4 cup Miracle Whip (could use lite)
- 1 TB. mustard
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/3 cup pickle relish
- ½ tsp. celery seed
- ½ tsp. dried dill weed
- 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
- 1/3 minced red or purple onion
- 1 cup cubed cheese (Havarti, cheddar or Swiss)
- 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs
- ½ cup minced carrots
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate at least 4 hours overnight would be the best to meld flavors
Cook’s note: Recipe comes from BHG. Chicken teriyaki is pictured above in the plate lunch
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 minced garlic clove
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 2 TB. sherry
- In saucepan combine soy sauce, sugar, garlic and sherry
- Cook over low heat till sugar dissolves
- Cook uncovered 5 minutes
- Cool and pour over chicken, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours
- Drain and reserve marinade
- Grill chicken and baste with marinade
Lunch wagons have circled the islands since 1930's. They are parked at plantation sites, docks, downtown areas and construction sites. This food truck is where we found our plate lunches.
Do you remember the Where's Waldo books that first came out in 1987? Well with the multitude of roosters and hens running wild around on the island tourists are learning who rules the roost. Today it was not hard to find one like searching for Waldo. They were at the beach.