Getting Started Hawaiian Style

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We arrived on Oahu Island at night, rented a car and drove about 20 minutes to the east to Leila’s Werner’s sister’s homee. Leila is a native Hawaiian and a member of the Fairchild Tropical Fruit program. I was tired from the long flight, but enjoyed what little of the Hawaiian night I saw.

In the morning, Katy, Leila’s sister, made a breakfast of papaya, pineapple  and guava jelly - from her backyard. I also noticed she had many mango chutney jars on the counter. She said she has the time to process fruit and share with her mom.

After breakfast, Leila took me to China Town. There were many fish on display, from beautifully colored fish to large ocean denizens. We continued our walk towards Chinatown. There were so many countries represented, from Korea to the Philippines and Japan to Vietnam. Where to start? I was looking for fruit, too late for mangos in this time of the year but I am hoping to get the last one of season. We saw a woman selling rambutans. Then I spied some mangos, but alas, the label said Mexico. Further on, we saw more mangos. This time, local green mangos that looked like ‘Pairi’. When I tried to take a picture the lady objected, mistaking me for the heath department.

We rode up to the University of Hawaii’s Lyon Arboretum. This area was more humid. the Island has many microclimates and changes can take place from one mile to the next, from dry to humid. The arboretum has almost 200 acres surrounded by a beautiful curtain of mountains. The garden is comprised of a diversity of plants: heliconias, gingers, aroids, bromeliads, as well as native Hawaiian plants and palms.


The palm collection and the lower grounds near the Visitor Center dominate the big canopy. There was also an herb and spice garden, the Native Hawaiian Garden and the Beatrice Krauss Hawaiian Ethnobotanic Garden. Leila and I enjoyed the shade of a Malay apple, partaking in its fruit. She, like me has fond memories of this fruit from her childhood. 

We took a drive around Oahu, and I sat at the window looking closely at the passing fields. There were not many commercial orchards, but there was lots of back yard production, some with mangos. We stopped by a local nursery to get some papaya seeds and surprisingly I saw mango trees for sale. They had ‘Rapoza’; ‘Jewel’, ’Alampur Baneshan’, ‘Gouveia’ and a 'Fairchild’ mango tree. Reading the label, I discovered that they come from Plant It Hawaii, which I am visiting soon. Along with the mango trees they had avocados, citrus, sapodilla, carambolas, abius, guavas and caimito trees.

Leila showed me the house she used to live in when she was little, remembering the big ‘Haden’ tree in the backyard that her mom used to make jelly. Still at 92 years-of-age she asked her daughter to get some mangos for her, and keep some preserves to enjoy in times when they are not in season. We ended the day with a lovely home meal Hawaiian style: Laulau with taro leaves, pork and butterfish; Okinawa shorya pork, red rice and for desset Okinawa potato pie with macadamia crust!