Last month, my family and I spent a week on Oahu. I hadn't been to the Hawaiian islands in far too long and it had been even longer since I visited Oahu where my dad lived after leaving the Philippines and before his family moved to the Monterey Peninsula. But regardless of the time and distance, it feels like home.
To get myself in the Hawaiian frame of mind, I downloaded a ridiculous number of books set in Hawaii, including the fifteen A Murder on Maui books in the series by Robert W. Stephens. Yes, fifteen. I only read four while we were there. Then I read the other eleven after we got home.
I'll be honest: it's not great literature. But they were entertaining and I breezed though the set that features Edgar Allen Rutherford, nickname Poe, as a private investigator who is married to a Maui detective Alana Hu. Poe also owns a bar with his childhood best friend, Foxx, who is also the father of a daughter with Alana's sister, Hani.
Poe narrates as if in a conversation with the reader and it makes for a quick, pleasant read. In Aloha Means Goodbye, we meet the cast of characters and Foxx is arrested for the murder of his artist girlfriend. Alana does the arresting and Poe investigates to prove Foxx's innocence. In Wedding Day Dead, Hani's fiancé turns up murdered the night before the wedding. Book three in the series, Blood Like the Setting Sun, a hotel mogul is receiving death threats and Poe must figure out who wants her dead. You get the idea.
Each of the books is standalone and Stephens does a good job of reintroducing the cast of characters in each book, including how he got his nickname. And, truth be told, there isn't a lot of food mentioned. But there is some.
In book seven, Ocean of Guilt, the party disembarks and goes to a seafood restaurant recommended by one of the crew members. I liked how he described their lunch; I can see this applying to my hungry trio, too. "Fortunately, the food came out fairly quickly. The meal was a seafood lover’s delight with a scrumptious mix of lobster, shrimp, scallops, and mussels. It smelled like a little corner of heaven, and we attacked the food as if we were a raiding party of Vikings who hadn’t eaten in days" (pg. 74).
In The Last Kill, we learn that while an excellent investigator, Poe is not much of a cook. "I was literally driving down my home street when I pulled a quick U-turn and made my way to a grocery store. Better safe than sorry, I thought. I bought a bouquet of flowers native to the island, a bottle of Pinot Noir, and the ingredients to make spaghetti and meatballs, which I realized is by no means a classic Hawaiian dish. Nevertheless, it’s one of the few things I can make without burning down the kitchen" (pg. 113).
But it was from Poe's First Law, book thirteen, that had me chuckling. "I made Foxx stop so we could grab a shave ice. I selected a tasty blend of grape and strawberry, while Foxx stood off to the side and wondered how a grown man could be so addicted to these things. I don’t see how he could question that. They’re delicious, and I’m sure you’d say the same thing if you’ve had one before" (pg. 116).
I decided that this one needed mention on my kitchen blog! Shave ice is a Hawaiian institution. No, it's not a sno-cone. Yes, it is addictive. In fact, the boys decreed: everyday we need to get a shave ice or a malasada! Done.
'Shave Ice' not 'Shaved Ice'! Turns out that this treat came about when Japanese immigrants shaved ice flakes from large blocks of ice, then they coated the ice with sugar or fruit juice. In the local Pidgin dialect it was called: Shave Ice.
See what I mean about it not being a sno-cone. This is shaved ice with delicious syrup, sometimes with ice cream, lots of toppings such as red beans, mochi cubes, and sometimes a dollop of condensed milk on top. So, definitely not a healthy dessert. But an addiction I happily fed for the seven days we were on the island!
What about you...have you been to Hawaii and had shave ice? What was your favorite flavor?
I haven't been very good about linking up to our #FoodieReads group.
Here you go: the August #FoodieReads.