In college, my roommates and I rented a crazy little house in Kalihi, a suburb of Honolulu, on Oahu. They were all Filipino (except Ina who was Chamorran–though her mother had immigrated to Guam from the Philippines) and taught me to cook lumpia, and roll sushi, and spam musubi (yes, I’m serious) and enjoy shark cake and lomi lomi salmon and pickled onions and any number of exotic dishes. We ate tuna fish mixed with poi, and grilled oysters topped with shoyu and garlic and japalenos. I would fight them for the tako poke and the spicy kim chee. We ate sticky rice with everything.
It’s snowing again today, but that’s not why I miss Hawaii. I miss it most in the summer when I ache for the ocean. For the rough, amnesiac stretch of it. For the beaches, and the volleyball and the dark-skinned women in bikinis. What I miss today is the food. The surprise of sweet and sour. The salty plums and iso peanuts. The pork dumplings and rice cakes and mahi mahi sandwiches. The lure of the fish markets with their bright offerings, laid out behind glass, heads still attached, one dead eye glaring.