Requested by jessica

Poi: Let Me Explain Why I Love It!

Thanks for the request @jesszaffino
  1. I do love poi.
  2. For those who don't know, poi is mashed up, cooked taro root.
    Taro root looks like a disgusting, giant potato.
  3. Taro leaves are also eaten, but have nothing to do with poi.
  4. Taro grows in little ponds, maybe a foot deep.
  5. Snails THRIVE in taro ponds. Crazy!!
  6. After cooking the taro root until it's quite soft, you pound it with a poi pounder. For hours. This is usually a family or community activity.
  7. This is a traditional poi pounder.
  8. This is my personal poi pounder. My wife got this for me a couple of years ago. It's very small - like 12" long.
  9. Until recently I thought mine was strictly decorative, but I recently met a guy who was born and raised on Maui who makes his own poi here in Portland, using a pounder the same as mine. I can't tell you how excited I am to have made this discovery.
    You can try to make it in a food processor or blender but it doesn't work. They're just way, way too fast and it turns the taro into a sticky, inedible mess. I've tried.
  10. So...why do I like poi? Many reasons.
  11. First, here's why people usually don't like poi:
  12. At luaus they talk about it, explaining how you eat it "one finger, two finger, or three finger style," meaning how much you want. Those styles actually refer to how thick it is, but they don't explain it correctly at luaus.
  13. Also at luaus they talk about how everyone says it tastes like wallpaper paste, which plants a bad image in people's minds.
  14. Then they tell you to eat it with your fingers, "traditional Hawaiian style." That's bullshit. I mean, sure, 200 years ago, but not anymore. Most people don't eat it plain. It's very bland and often sort of fermented, so has an unusual flavor.
    Some Hawaiian folks brag about how old they prefer their poi. The older it is, the more fermented. Like "Bro, I won't even eat da poi unless it's at least five days old."
  15. But poi is more often eaten WITH other foods, not alone. I most love it like a gravy, by dipping meat into it. Or putting it on meat like a condiment. Then it takes on some of the meat flavor and adds a slightly sour taste, which can be wonderful.
    So good!
  16. Also it's great mixed with bananas. This is often Hawaiian babies first solid food. Either straight poi or poi mixed with bananas. Not just traditionally, but currently.
    I also like it mixed with yogurt or peanut butter. Or on granola.
  17. Poi is very smooth and creamy, and pretty rich. It has a somewhat earthy flavor, and can get sour. It offsets some of the savory flavor of meat when eaten in combination.
  18. Just don't buy into that luau crap about it tasting like paste and using your fingers. That's just part of the show and frankly really stupid.
  19. Poi and taro are very serious staples in traditional Hawaiian diets and is still eaten heavily today.
  20. Taro is such a versatile plant. The root can be roasted and eaten sort of like a potato, or cooked and mashed into poi, or sliced and cooked like a potato chip. The leaves can be eaten like spinach and is super healthy and delicious.
  21. Taro root is also made into breads and rolls. They're purple and sweet and delicious.
  22. Taro is also made into a super thick pudding called Kulolo. You slice it, it's so thick! It tastes like a very sweet poi. It's mashed taro root mixed with coconut cream and sugar. Yum!!
  23. If anyone ever wants to get me a cool gift, this would be a winner!!
  24. Just for funs, there's a Hawaiian company called Poi Pounder that makes fun snacks. These candy coated peanut things are delicious, but aren't really related to poi.
  25. On Maui they sell poi at Costco!
  26. One time on Hawaii I had a McDonald's Taro Pie. Oh. Man. Best McDonald's pie ever!!
  27. So yeah. I love poi. I'm kind of passionate about it.