Pineapple, SPAM, umbrella drinks. These may come to mind when you think of Hawaiian food. But friends, I am here to tell you Hawaii is so much more, it's a foodie paradise. And I'm not alone, when I asked some of my fellow Hawaii blogger friends to offer their tips on not-to-miss eats, they offered many enthusiastic responses.
1. Poke (pronounced poe-kay), raw fish salad
Geology blogger Anna listed poke as her top choice, "I didn't try it until I moved here and I was totally missing out!" Tania, our Maui fashionista, likes spicy ahi poke and lomi salmon. The great part about poke is the variety, there are so many kinds to try. If you don't care for raw seafood, give the cooked varieties a try. Poke can be found everywhere on the islands, just ask a local to point you in the right direction.
2. Mochi, sweet Japanese rice cake
Gerrit, of Love Big Island, recommends strawberry mochi while photographer Dallas Nagata White kicks it up with mochi ice cream. Solid choices.
3. Tropical fruit
Seek out a farmer's market and you will be rewarded. Angie encourages you to go for the Maui gold pineapple, Dewi suggests poha berries (I've never had these!), Sonia stands by the breadfruit, and Doug, our resident farmer/blogger, urges you to try lilikoi (passion fruit), mango, white pineapple, and yellow dragon fruit.
4. Poi, mashed taro root
Even Andrew Zimmern dogged the sticky, purple staple of traditional Hawaiian food, often referred to as wallpaper paste-like. We know better. Ihilani suggests trying poi with other traditional luau foods like laulau, kalua pig, and squid luau. Even though he's still not a fan, Damon thinks everyone should at least try it. A way to sample many of these foods is at a luau, just be sure to choose carefully. If you are on Oahu, Jen recommends the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
5. SPAM musubi, a "sushi" roll with SPAM and egg
My personal favorite. It's just not a combo you see everyday on the mainland, and it is such a great breakfast. Pick one up at any grocery store or gas station.
Mahalo to all the bloggers who helped out with these recommendations. Please leave a comment below if you have further suggestions.