Honolulu Lite

Charles Memminger

Thursday, April 17, 2003

This ‘Soup’ deliciously
flavored by Hawaii

I've never been a big fan of chicken soup. Probably because the chicken soup my brothers and I had as kids was thin, watery stuff. It came out of a can and was overly hydrated in the interest of creating enough volume for three hungry mouths. When it comes to soup, give me a big bowl of Portuguese Bean Soup loaded with sausage, noodles, tomatoes and potatoes and spicy enough to knock your hat off.

But real chicken soup, made the way it's supposed to be made -- with love and a real chicken -- has the legendary capacity not only to fill up but fulfill. Someone noticed long ago that real chicken soup seems to nourish the soul as well as the body. Which is why someone a lot smarter than me started a literary empire based on the concept of offering spiritual nourishment by way of books entitled "Chicken Soup for the Soul."

From the original, there are now many titles ranging from "Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul" to "Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul" to "Chicken Soup for the Soul of America." The last one -- in memory of the 9/11 attacks -- I know well because it includes a Honolulu Lite column.

Several years ago, a local writer and a great enthusiast of life in general, Robin Stephens Rohr, decided that Hawaii needed to get into the "Chicken Soup" game. If there's anywhere in the world that imbues people with spiritual enlightenment, inner peace, not to mention a sun tan, it is Hawaii. In her gracious, graceful and yet unremittingly forceful way -- think of a bunker-buster bomb filled with plumeria blossoms -- Rohr pursued "Chicken Soup From the Soul of Hawaii," a collection of inspiring, touching, funny and, to stay in the soup motif -- ono tales from Hawaii.

THIS BOOK IS different from the rest of the "Chicken Soup" series because it is inspiration FROM the soul of a particular state. That's a great distinction because few places in the country are so saturated in the spirituality and soulfulness that we in the islands simply call "aloha." My contribution to the collection of stories is meager, but it puts me in good company with co-contributors like Clint Eastwood, Hoku Ho, John Lake, Ben Affleck and many, many others.

In one segment, a diverse group of residents and FIVs (Frequent Island Visitors) tell why they think Hawaii is a "state of paradise." Bo Derek asks, "Where else can you shower under a 2,000 foot Waipio Valley waterfall while shampooing your hair with freshly picked awapuhi?"

I would add, where else can you shower under a 2,000-foot waterfall with the hope of Bo Derek showing up?

Jon De Mello writes, "My family has been here for five generations and I'm still astonished by the beauty of the islands. With my last breath ... I will whisper the word Hawaii."

"Chicken Soup From the Soul of Hawaii" is in the stores now. I'll be among guest signers at Waldenbook's at Ala Moana tomorrow at 1:45 p.m. and at Barnes & Noble at Kahala Mall on Saturday at 1 p.m. Come by for a small taste of aloha and absolutely no Portuguese Bean Soup.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail


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