photo by EfrankE

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Hawai'i, you EAT!

I discovered early on here that in Hawai'i food plays an especially important role in social gatherings. At nearly all events, way more food is put out than can be eaten, apparently with the understanding that everyone attending arrives with an obligation to overeat, which we mostly do.

In the Midwest most people arrive at gatherings feeling obligated to claim to be on some sort of diet. They then proceed to overeat anyway, the difference being that overeating is not viewed as a social obligation. It's more of a voluntary, frequently-indulged option.

Beloved Wife and I were invited to a pig-roast/feast held two days after Thanksgiving this year. Though still bloated from the holiday, I recognized that it might appear to be rude on our part to attend the follow-up feast and then eat only a sufficient amount of food. I therefore determined to craft a plan to achieve an excessive level of food consumption at the feast, one sufficiently large to prevent any misunderstandings and avoid inadvertently appearing aloof or unappreciative of the preparations and hospitality of our hosts.

The Plan I hit on was this: On the "off" day between the two feasts, I would continue to consume the expansive quantities of food necessary to prevent my stomach capacity from diminishing (side note: having just placed as a finisher in the Annual Thanksgiving Day Stomach-Stretching, Eating-Endurance Challenge hosted by our family, and with the upcoming pig-roast a mere day away, I reasoned that it would probably be beneficial to keep my stomach in a state of heightened meal-readiness *alert level orange*).

So, that's what I did. Sure, it was a demanding eating test, forcing me to draw on every ounce of my resolve, but I managed to stick it out. It all comes down to the spirit of aloha. Sometimes you gotta go the extra mile. Just the way I was raised - and a cultural tradition in Hawai'i.

Pleasingly, I can report that all my forethought, planning and commitment to immoderate eating seems to have paid off. We ate a lot (tastiest ulu I've ever eaten), had a good time and left the event on good terms with our hosts. I believe everybody there went home with Ziplocks full of leftovers for later too!

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