Linda Stevens is Field Notes Coordinator for Smithsonian Journeys. Combing the Institution for interesting projects happening around the world, she prepares these research notes especially for travelers. Today, she shares some experiences from her own travels. Learn more about Linda here. Click here to see more research notes.
Hawaiian lei flowers. Photo: Courtesy of Flickr user babasteve
I never set out to collect cookbooks; it just sort of happened when I wasn’t looking. I had the standard ones on my kitchen shelf, but a Smithsonian Journeys trip to Hawaii in 1987 sent me off in a whole new direction.
My husband’s talents in the kitchen did not even cover making coffee, so before the Hawaiian trip departed, I alerted all my local family and friends that I would be gone, certain that they would take the hint and extend a dinner invitation (or two) in my absence.
The trip was a delightful exploration of the islands of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai. One of the highlights of the trip was a luau at a private home in Hawi on the island of Hawaii. Earl and Audrey Veloria and their son, Kaleo, welcomed us to their home for an afternoon and evening of preparing the luau feast, lei making, singing, dancing, story telling—and eating!
Earl had already dug the imu (underground oven) in which our luau was to cook, and he had lined it with hot rocks. It was our job to help him gather banana leaves and lug them back up the hill to the imu. Audrey brought out the food and placed it on the imu. Earl showed us how to cover it with banana leaves, then shovel dirt over it and sprinkle with water to create the steam that would cook our feast. (more…)