Ways to the Heart: Food and Foodways in Hawai'i

Overview

Overview

Time:

3 class periods (based on 50-minute class periods)

 

Objectives:

  • Students will map how foods (plants and animals) came to the local landscape/environment.
  • Students will describe how those foods (plants and animals) were adopted into the culture and traditions.
  • Students will explain how these foods have become part of today’s cultural feasts.
  • Students will identify foods used in traditional celebrations.
  • Students will prepare a mini celebration feast.

Learning Center by Kealoha Kelekolio and Rona Rodenhurst of Bishop Museum, Honolulu

The Hawaiian Islands were peopled by migrations from other Pacific islands. These first voyagers brought food plants and animals. Prior to the arrival of man to the islands all plants and animals come by air, wind or upon the waves of the ocean or on the birds that flew there. This Learning Center explores how food resources and the evolving culture become identifiers of culture today. The lesson culminates with the preparation and eating of a modern adaptation of a lū‘au feast.

 

 

Enduring Understandings:

  • Food serves as a means for survival, to build community, to mark cultural identity, and to provide comfort.
  • Our cultures and foodways have changed over time, and these changes have affected our lives in various ways.
  • People celebrate in various ways and for various things. Celebrations mark events in the everyday lives of peoples. The preparation of foods outside the ordinary punctuates the importance of the feast.

 

Essential Questions:

  • What role does food play in identifying culture?
  • What cultural foods do you identify with?
  • Are there cultural events that these foods are used in today?
  • How did Hawaiians use food in celebrations and are they still being used today?
  • Can you track the history or journey of the foods that are important in your culture?

Class 1: First Foods

Class 1: First Foods

 

Objectives:

  • Students will map how foods (plants and animals) came to the local landscape/environment.
  • Students will describe how those foods (plants and animals) were adopted into their culture and or traditions.

Materials Needed:

  • Map of Hawai'i/South Pacific
  • Map of local area
  • Activity sheets
  • Hawaiian Foods and their Preparation (next section)
  • The Story of the First Kalo Plant (following section)

First Activity:

A. Distance Traveling

1. Divide students into groups of 5 to 7 students.

2. Provide each group with a large chart paper and marking pen.

3. Instruct the groups that each group will leave home and go on a long distance journey. They don’t know exactly where their final destination will be and what food resources they will find once they arrive. As part of the trip’s preparation they are to conduct research about their destination and make two lists:

a. What possible food sources might they encounter at their destination?

b. What food items/resources should they take with them on this journey?

4. To add clues to help the group you may want to assign each group a journey through…

a. a long voyage up/down a river

b. across a large hot desert

c. through a tropical forest

d. along a seacoast

e. through a mountain passage in… (Andes, Switzerland etc.)

f. to the east/west coast

h. across a wide ocean

5. Post the lists and have students read their lists aloud.

6. Students will then discuss the merits or shortcomings of those food items chosen for the journey.

7. Make a master list of those items common to all.


 

Second Activity

B. Food mapping

1. Take the list of foods from Activity 1 above.

2. Research and discuss where the particular food and or food source originated.

3. Discuss how that food came to your table.

4. Map the food’s journey.

 

 

Third Activity

C. Haloa and the first kalo plant

1. Students will read the "Hawaiian Foods and Their Preparation" and "The Story of the First Kalo Plant" (next two sections).

2. In other parts of Polynesia, ‘ulu or breadfruit is the basic food.

3. Students will discuss the following:

a. Why does kalo become the basic food of Hawai’i?

b. What are the indigenous food staples in your area of the country?

c. Are there any similar stories that make that staple food part of the native culture?

4. Add these native food staples to your food origin map.

 

Hawaiian Foods and their Preparation

Hawaiian Foods and their Preparation

 

The pioneer groups of Polynesians who settled in Hawai’i had to depend, at first, upon the plants and animals they found upon their arrival. In time they were able to harvest the crops that grew from the slips, roots, and seeds which they had brought from their homeland. (Look on-line for a Polynesian triangle map to show distances and approximate times of travel from points of origin such as the Marquesas, Tathiti, and Samoa to Hawai’i.) Also, the offspring of their domestic animals could be eaten when they became numerous.

Some of the foods the Polynesians brought with them and which became a regular part of their diet were:

Poi

Poi

 

1. Kalo/taro Colocasia esculenta

The Hawaiian people were unique among Polynesians in preferring poi to the unpounded taro corm as their staple food. When mature taro plants were pulled by hand from the pond (lo’i) the leafy tops were cut and set aside to be cooked. The washed unpeeled corms were steamed in the imu (underground oven) until tender. The peeling was scraped off with a shell and once cooled the corms were placed on a board for mashing with a stone pounder. It is believed that over 300 varieties of kalo were developed by the Hawaiians and folklore says that kalo is the older sibling to Haloa, the ancestor to mankind and for this reason was considered sacred.

 

 

2. ‘Uala or sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)

The root of the sweet potato is second in importance to taro as a staple starch food. It can be grown in a variety of localities and matures in three to six months. It requires less work than taro cultivation. Sweet potatoes are eaten after being cooked in the imu. They are mashed and water added to make a poi ‘uala. Also raw sweet potatoes are peeled and grated on a rough stone and mixed with coconut cream to make a pudding. The green leaves at the tips of the vines were cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Though the plant is associated with Kanepua’a (man hog) because his snout nose would burrow into the ground, it is not considered sacred like the taro.

 

 

3. ‘Ulu or breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis)

Breadfruit as a starch is of secondary importance since the principal crop ripens from May through September with small numbers at other seasons. The mature fruit is broiled over coals or cooked in the imu. It is eaten in this form or may be pounded into poi ’ulu. Ripe uncooked fruit is mashed, mixed with coconut cream, wrapped in ti leaf bundles and steamed in the imu to make the food pepeie’e ‘ulu. This may be sliced when cold and dried in the sun until an oily film forms. If sunned occasionally to prevent mildew, this food will last from one breadfruit season to the next.

 

4. Niu or coconut (Cocos nucifera)

The coconut tree has more uses than any other plant known to man. Aside from food the coconut trunk was used as houseposts, small canoes and the base of drums. The leaves were woven into baskets and used for thatching. The husk was used for cooking fuel and for making cordage and the mid-ribs were used for brooms and shrimp snares. A sprouted nut was planted in a hole in which an octopus had been placed. The octopus, it was believed, gave the tree roots a firm grip and spread like its own arms and gave the nuts a round shape like the octopus head. In preparing the coconut for food the husk is removed from the mature nut by forcing it onto the flattened point of a stout stick about a yard long, the base end of which has been securely driven into the ground. The husk is pried off the shell in several sections and saved for fuel or to be made into cordage. The nut is tapped sharply with a stone in one or more places along its circumference to break it into halves. The water is collected in a bowl. The flesh is scraped from the shell and mixed with the water and kneaded or stirred with a large spoon to release the oil. In earlier days a strainer made using the stems of the ‘ahu’awa sedge was dredged through the mixture to remove the gratings and retain the rich coconut cream. Several recipes incorporated the use of this cream.

5. Pua’a, pig or hog

Although pigs were raised in large numbers they were used chiefly in important feasts (‘aha’aina) or as offerings in religious ceremonies. Tabu in eating required that pork be restricted to men and boys 10 or 11 years and older. Small pigs were cooked in the imu. After removing the entrails the body cavities were filled with hot stones, the flesh was salted and the carcass placed on ti or banana leaves which had been laid over more burning stones. Large hogs were dressed, salted and the body cavity filled with hot stones. The hogs were wrapped in coarse kapa (bark cloth) or mats made for and used only for this purpose. The hog was left until the stones cooled. The cooked meat on the inside was cut away and eaten. The outer, underdone parts were cut into pieces and placed in the imu for re-cooking.

6. Chicken, seafoods and gamebirds

Fish and seafoods of all kinds were the primary protein of the masses supplemented with domesticated chickens and wild birds of all kinds.

7. Pa’akai or salt

Salt of excellent quality was gathered along rocky shores or produced in vessels or ponds by evaporation. The Hawaiians were the only Polynesians to use salt in its crystal form in their diet. White salt was used in preparing dry fish and was eaten with certain foods. Meats were salted before cooking, but vegetables usually were not salted. The red brown iron-bearing earth (‘alaea) was added to white salt make pa’akai ‘ula’ula, the attractive red salt served at a l!’au.

Methods of cooking food

a. Kalua—baking and steaming in the imu or underground oven.

b. Ko’ala—broiling unwrapped food over hot coals

c. P!lehu---cooking food in embers and hot ashes

d. L"walu –food wrapped in ti leaves and broiled over coals

e. Hakui --- boiling and puholo is steaming food in a closed calabash using hot stones

The Story of the First Kalo Plant

The Story of the First Kalo Plant

 

Haloa, the First Hawaiian

Wakea, skyfather and the father of these islands of Hawai’i, is the man. Ho’ohokuokalani is the woman. Ho’ohokuokalani was with child, her first baby. But the child was not to live, born premature, a male child. 

Ho’ohokuokalani was instructed to bury the child at the eastern edge of their hale (house) where the sun rises in the morning. Every day Ho’ohokuokalani cried over the grave, watering the site with her tears. One day there appeared a shoot that became the first kalo (taro) plant. The parents called this kalo baby Haloanakalaukapalili. This name was given because it has a fluttering heart-shaped leaf on top of a long stalk that gently trembled this way and that, which is what a kalo plant does when the wind blows.

Soon after Ho’ohokuokalani was with child again. This time she gave birth to a male child, a healthy baby boy. The parents called this boy Haloa for his older brother, the kalo, buried on the eastern side of the house. Haloa was a very important child for he was the first Hawaiian. All Hawaiians are his grandchildren. Haloa is our grandfather ancestor.

Haloanakalaukapalili, the kalo, is the older sibling to the human race. It is said that if you take care of your older siblings and your mother, they will nurture and take care of you. This is the relationship that the Hawaiians have to kalo.

 

Class 2: Culturally Important Foods

Class 2: Culturally Important Foods

Objectives:

  • Students will explain how particular foods have become part of today’s cultural feasts.
  • Students will identify foods used in traditional celebrations.

Materials Needed:

  • Downloaded pictures from the Hawai’i ALIVE website (hawaiialive.org) in Wao; Kanaka; woman pounding poi; lu’au at Moanalua
  • Recipes for lu’au food (see Recipes section)
  • Background information on Hawaiian feasts (see Hawaiian Foods section)

First Activity:

A. Celebrations

1. In large or small groups: Discuss how different cultures celebrate occasions such as birthdays, Thanksgiving or harvest, death anniversaries etc.

2. Discuss:

a. What foods have remained the same in the traditional meal? What foods have changed?

b. Have any of the preparation and cooking methods changed?

c. Anything added?

3. In large or small groups make a list of cultural celebrations.

a. Add to that list any special foods identified with that celebration; for example:

Birthday = Birthday cake

Valentine’s Day = Chocolate candies

Japanese New Year = Mochi

b. Write an essay on what food(s) are celebration foods in their family today.

4. Continue the discussion with:

a. What would be Hawaiian celebrations?

b. What is a traditional Hawaiian feast?

c. What kinds of changes do you think happened to a traditional Hawaiian feast of old and a l!’au celebration today?

Second Activity:

B: A Celebration: Planning for a lu’au

1. Most feasts in ancient Hawai’i revolved around the gods. Today’s lu’au may be given a different theme. Have the class decide what they would like to celebrate.

Here are a few examples:

a. Celebrate a naming feast. Students select a name in Hawaiian and explain why they chose the name and its meaning; or they could use the Hawaiian equivalent of their given name. A ceremony would take place followed by the lu’au. (Go on-line to Ulukau.org and click on Hawaiian dictionary for names.)

b. Thanksgiving feast where students would bring canned goods placed on a net where the holes are big enough so the goods would fall through when lifted. Later these can be donated to a food bank. Then the l!’au would follow.

c. Solstice ceremony where students honor the rising of the sun or moon and talk about the ecology and what students would do to sustain the environment. Follow with a lu’au.

2. In a large group decide what foods are to be prepared. Decide on any additional committees to plan the lu’au.

3. Break into small groups for each recipe selected. Groups would discuss necessary tasks and plan a mini-lu’au for the next session.

Hawaiian Feasts

Hawaiian Feasts

1. Feasts in Pre-European times

Feasts were planned for the enjoyment of the participants, and to seek the fellowship, help or pardon of the gods. Aha’aina, meaning “gathering for a meal,” were usually large feasts commemorating special occasions or honoring certain persons.

Pa’ina, a small party, did not have the significance of an ‘aha’aina.

Luau means young edible taro leaves. It is now used as the name for a feast in which Hawaiian foods, including lu’au (taro leaves) are served.

There were feasts of welcome, of harvest, for the newly born, and the anniversary of death.

2. Makahiki

The Hawaiian calendar observed the feast of Lono, the god of peace, agriculture and healing, during the period called Makahiki. During this time no real work took place and hostilities were suspended. It was a time of honoring and giving thanks to Lono for the bountiful harvest and a time of celebrations and games.

The image of Lono was paraded from village to village with the priests leading the procession. Upon entering the village an area was cleared and the people would bring their produce and their wares as offerings to Lono. These would be gathered up and taken to the High Chief to be redistributed. A net with large eyes was filled with goods and lifted by men and shaken. What fell through the net was symbolic of the bountiful harvest and the prosperous year to come. Games of skill and strength would follow and feasting would commence. This would last for several days and the completion of touring all the villages would last for three months.

Recipes for lu'au Food

Recipes for lu'au Food

Oven Kalua Pork

3 lb pork butt

2 cups water

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/4 cup Hawaiian salt (or rock salt)

Place pork fat side up in a roasting pan or deep casserole dish. Combine water and liquid smoke; pour over meat. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and roast in oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours. Remove from pan and shred. Makes six servings.

 

Laulau

1 lb luau leaf (or spinach)

12 ti leaves (or foil)

1 1/4 lb chicken (or boneless breasts)

1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt

Place chicken in bowl, add salt and work in thoroughly. Arrange chicken in spinach leaves and wrap in foil. Steam in a pressure cooker for 1 hour. Makes six servings.

 

Lomi Salmon

1/2 lb salted salmon

5 tomatoes, diced

10 green onions, chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup crushed ice

Soak salmon in water for 3 hours. Remove skin and bones; shred. Combine salmon, tomatoes and onions; knead until well mixed. Chill thoroughly. Add ice before serving. Makes six servings.

 

Haupia

1 3/4 cups frozen coconut milk

5 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup water

Thaw coconut milk over low heat. Combine sugar and cornstarch, stir in water. Stir mixture into coconut milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Pour into an 8 inch square pan. Let cool until firm. Makes six servings.

Class 3: Preparing a Feast

Class 3: Preparing a Feast

Objective:

  • Students will prepare a mini-celebration feast.

Materials Needed:

  • Recipes (previous section)
  • Shopping list
  • Ingredients
  • Decorations
  • Music

Activity:

Students explain the occasion they are celebrating and the foods they prepared, along with their significance. After all the groups have done this, the class would eat the foods they prepared.

Additional Resources

Additional Resources

 

Handy, E.S. Craighill and Elizabeth Gree Handy and Mary Kawena Pukui . Native Planters in Old Hawaii: Their Life, Lore, and Environment. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press. 1972.

Kamakau, Samuel. The Works of the People of Old. Na Hana a ka Po’e Kahilo. Honolulu. Bishop Museum Press. 1976.

Kanahele, George S. Ku Kanaka---Stand Tall. A Search for Hawaiian Values. Honolulu. University of Hawaii Press. 1986.

Mitchell, Donald D. Resource Units in Hawaiian Culture. Revised Edition. Honolulu. The Kamehameha Schools Press. 1982.

Web sites:

www.bishopmuseum.org Several data bases for plants, ethnology

www.hawaiialive.org A Bishop Museum Website featuring 40 of the museum’s treasures. Teacher based. Includes essays, downloadable pictures, documents, videos for classroom use. For this lesson use the poi pounding section.

www.kahoolawe.org Protect Kaho’olawe ‘Ohana is the preservation and restoration of Kaho’olawe island in Hawai’i. Click on Makahiki for the island celebration.

www.pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu Polynesian Voyaging Society. Education information on migration and navigation in the Pacific using traditional methods.

 

Assessment Rubric and Academic Standards

Assessment Rubric and Academic Standards


Standard 7: Geography: WORLD IN SPATIAL TERMS—Use geographic representations to organize, analyze, and present information on people, places, and environments and understand the nature and interaction of geographic regions and societies around the world

Topic

Benchmark

Sample Performance Assessment

ENVIRONMENT

AND SOCIETY

SS.4.7.3 Analyze the consequences of human modification of the physical environment in Hawaii using geographic representations (including lo’i kalo and loko i’a)

The student:

Compares the effects of land and water use in the ‘ahupua’a and how similar practices are carried out today. Assesses the positive and negative consequences of such uses on the environment, and makes connections to current environmental practices.

Rubric

Advanced

Proficient

Partially Proficient

Novice

Evaluate the consequences of human modification of the physical environment in Hawai’i using geographic representations, drawing relevant and insightful conclusions

Analyze the consequences of human modification of the physical environment in Hawai’i using geographic representations, drawing relevant conclusions

Describe the consequences of human modification of the physical environment in Hawai’i using geographic representations

Recognize that there are consequences of human modification of the physical environment in Hawai’i

           

6.3

Standard 6: Cultural Anthropology: SYSTEMS, DYNAMICS, AND INQUIRY—Understand culture as a system of beliefs, knowledge, and practices shared by a group and understand how cultural systems change over time

Topic

Benchmark

Sample Performance Assessment

CULTURAL

DYNAMICS/CHANGE

AND CONTINUITY

SS.4.6.3 Describe the changes in Hawaiian culture through contact with Westerners

The student:

Explains how Hawaiian culture changed, and describes the effects of the changes caused by Western contact.

Rubric

Advanced

Proficient

Partially Proficient

Novice

Describe, with clear and precise detail, the changes in Hawaiian culture through contact with Westerners

Describe, with detail, the changes in Hawaiian culture through contact with Westerners

Describe, with minimal detail, the changes in Hawaiian culture through contact with Westerners

Ineffectively describe the changes in Hawaiian culture through contact with Westerners

           

 

 

6.1

Standard 6: Cultural Anthropology: SYSTEMS, DYNAMICS, AND INQUIRY—Understand culture as a system of beliefs, knowledge, and practices shared by a group and understand how cultural systems change over time

Topic

Benchmark

Sample Performance Assessment

CULTURAL

SYSTEMS AND

PRACTICES

 

SS.4.6.1 Explain how language, traditional lore, music, dance, artifacts, traditional practices, beliefs, values, and behaviors are elements of culture and contribute to the preservation of culture

The student:

Describes how specific components of Hawaiian culture assure continuity of the culture and embody cultural values.

Rubric

Advanced

Proficient

Partially Proficient

Novice

Analyze how language, traditional lore, music, dance, artifacts, traditional practices, beliefs, values, and behaviors are elements of culture and

contribute to the preservation of culture

Explain how language, traditional lore, music, dance, artifacts, traditional practices, beliefs, values, and behaviors are elements of culture and contribute to the preservation of culture

 

Explain that language, traditional lore, music, dance, artifacts, traditional practices, beliefs, values, and behaviors are elements of culture and contribute to the preservation of culture

Recognize language, traditional lore, music, dance, artifacts, traditional practices, beliefs, values, and/or behaviors as elements of culture

1.1

Standard 1: Historical Understanding: CHANGE, CONTINUITY, AND CAUSALITY—Understand change and/or continuity and cause and/or effect in history

Topic

Benchmark

Sample Performance Assessment

HISTORICAL

CHANGE AND

CONTINUITY

SS.4.1.1 Describe both change and continuity of aspects of Hawaiian culture (including religion, land use, and social systems)

The student:

Organizes data and uses it to create a timeline of one or more aspects of Hawaiian culture and how they have evolved over time.

 

Rubric

 

Advanced

Proficient

Partially Proficient

Novice

 

Analyze both change and continuity of aspects of Hawaiian culture

Describe both change and

continuity of aspects of

Hawaiian culture

Give examples of both change and continuity of aspects of Hawaiian culture

Recognize examples of change and/or continuity of aspects of Hawaiian culture