THEIR ROOTS

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

Maui chefs and food­ies are proudly re­dis­cov­er­ing and re­pur­pos­ing the so-called “ca­noe” plants brought by boat to Hawaii by early Poly­ne­sian set­tlers about 1,700 years ago. There are about 25 of these trop­i­cal crops but here’s a shortlist of five, along with their Hawai­ian names and where to taste them on Maui.

Sug­ar­cane (ko). Ty­lun Pang, ex­ec­u­tive chef of Fair­mont Kea Lani, pays homage to the plan­ta­tion era and the blend of food cul­tures at the ho­tel’s Ko restau­rant. For an af­ter­noon treat, hit Ko Bar. Along with a plat­ter of pu­pus (ap­pe­tiz­ers), or­der a sig­na­ture Ko Plan­ta­tion cock­tail, made with Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum (dis­tilled from lo­cal sug­ar­cane) gin­ger, fresh pineap­ple, cilantro, fresh lime and sug­ar­cane. http:// ko­restau­rant.com

Sweet potato (uala): Packed with nu­tri­ents, the pur­ple va­ri­ety of this tu­ber is pop­u­lar. Healthy never tasted so de­li­cious in Chef Shel­don Simeon’s mauve-coloured Ube Ice Cream at Mi­grant Maui, the sig­na­ture restau­rant at the Wailea Beach Mar­riott (http://www.mi­grant­maui.com).

Ap­ple ba­nanas (mai’a). These stubby lit­tle ba­nanas are shorter than the Cavendish va­ri­ety we typ­i­cally find in Canada, and have a re­fresh­ing, ap­ple-like tart­ness to them. They’re great to eat as is but even dreamier in a ba­nanacream pie at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop (http://www.leo­das. com).

Taro (kalo): Bobby Pahia, a for­mer agri­cul­ture re­searcher with the Univer­sity of Hawaii and now a taro farmer with Hoa­hola Farms, says na­tive Hawai­ians con­sider the nu­tri­tious sta­ple to be sa­cred. The whole plant— leaves, stalk and tu­ber—is ed­i­ble. Try it in its tra­di­tional forms, in­clud­ing the laulau dish, in which pork is wrapped in taro leaves and steamed, at the Old La­haina Lu’au (http://www.old­la­hainaluau.com). For a more con­tem­po­rary take, try a ve­gan Maui Taro Burger (http://www.hawai­itaro. com); the pat­ties are sold at Whole Foods, Mana Foods and other gro­cery stores in Hawaii.

Bread­fruit (‘ulu). Once a sta­ple but al­most for­got­ten as wheat and rice pushed it aside, the spiky, bowl­ing-ball-size bread­fruit is un­der­go­ing a re­nais­sance as food ac­tivists view it as a way to feed the needy, refor­est the is­lands and re­store Hawai­ian cul­ture. John Cad­man of Pono Pies makes cheese­cake-like pies and cup­cakes us­ing sweet, ripe bread­fruit that are dairy-, wheat-, gluten- and su­gar-free. The pas­sion-fruit flavour is pure Maui. Sold at is­land fes­ti­vals, Mana Foods in Paia and Maui Cof­fee Roast­ers in Kahu­lui. (http://www. ponopies.com)

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