October 24, 2006

You Are What You Eat

Living in Hawaii gives one the opportunity to sample new kinds of food not usually available on the mainland. Given that 60% of the state is Asian, primarily Japanese, there is tons of Asian food. There is also lots of traditional Hawaiian food, most of which is very good.

Some of it, however, is revolting. Do you know about poi? Poi is made by digging up the root of a taro plant. The root looks sort of like jicama or a coconut--it's brownish and dirty and covered with what looks like brown 1970s-era grass wallpaper.

You peel off this brown, furry stuff and the inside is purplish. You smash it up, and then you let it "ferment." "Ferment," in this case, is a euphemism for "rot." Poi is rotten taro root. It even comes in flavors. You can get it in extra-rotten or only a little rotten. You can eat it as thick, gloppy, rotten stuff, or you can add water and make it runny, watery, vile stuff.

Another, even more evil concoction, is a Filipino delicacy, often sold by street vendors, called "balut." Balut is a fertilized duck egg. That is, there is a tiny, baby duck inside this egg. It dies. Then it sits on a shelf for about 17 days. It gets rotten and molded and disgusting. Then you buy it from a street vendor and eat it. Yum!!


Anonymous said...

Weelllll .... as a poi conisure myself I couldn't let this one go. Granted my MIL LOVES sour poi, it is not necessary to let it get to such a state before consuming. I myself love fresh pa'i 'ai (one finger = so think you only need one finger to eat it with) poi, nice and sweet (granted sweet here is a very relative term).

Anonymous said...

You are incredibly ignorant of what a Balut actually is to be writing about them.
They are not rotten by any means, they are in fact as fresh as possible.
Balut, a fertilized duck egg, allowed to develop anywhere from 12-21 days with 17days being considered optimal by many connoisseurs.
The 'live' egg is hardboiled, and either eaten immediately or further prepared in various ways.
Traditionally the pointed end of the egg is opend just enough to suck the juices out (like a nice warm savory broth) and then the shell is peeled and it is eaten with salt or perhaps some vinegar/chile, either in a couple quick bites or nibbled bit by bit.

Anonymous said...