Food, family and the holiday spirit
More stories from Star-Bulletin readers prove that food grounds us, especially during times of celebration.
A Thanksgiving twist
Charlene Akina writes of Thanksgivings in Naalehu on the Big Island, with Grampa and Gramma Apong. "Out in that Southern Most Community in the United States, supermarket turkeys were few and expensive. The taxi ride to Hilo was long and tiring. When no turkeys were to be found, Gramma Apong bought two large bangus (milk fish)."
Akina's oldest son maintains the tradition with other types of fish. "Stuffed bangus is a happy memory, but the tradition of stuffed, baked fish for the Thanksgiving meal continues to the third generation."
Perfection in a salad
Barbara Clemens says this sweet-and-sour gelatin salad, made with celery, cabbage and mayonnaise, has always been part of her family holidays. "Although our mother, Diantha, grew up in the Roaring '20s and found her grandparents hopelessly old-fashioned, she made this dish faithfully every Thanksgiving and Christmas; my siblings and I carry on the tradition.
"Visitors sometimes look suspiciously at these shivering squares heading their way at the table, but after trying it, most agree it's terrific. For us, every colorful bite evokes memories of glittering candles, white tablecloths, generations that have gone before, and the warm fellowship of the holiday dinner."
Naked, for New Year's
Malie K. Smith credits this New Year's tradition to her mother's lack of culinary skills.
On Smith's first year making the family feast, her mother offered to carve the turkey. "Reasoning, 'New year, new healthy resolutions,' she not only carved the turkey, but skinned it.
Every family member to walk through the door commented on my 'naked' turkey with a good laugh. It has since become a tradition to have a skinless, calorie-cutting, heart-attack-saving, naked New Year's Turkey!"
Chocolate manju surprise
Dyan Kleckner remembers helping his mother make manju for the neighborhood New Year's gathering in Hilo. "For as long as I can remember, I would help my mom make a huge batch of chocolate-chip manju. I had the ever-so-important job of placing three little chocolate chips in the center of the flat dough and then handing them off to my mom to pinch the corners together."
The chocolate was his mother's special addition. "I grew up thinking chocolate chips were a normal manju filling. My taste buds were shockingly bothered when I bit into my first an manju and came to the realization that there was more to life ... and manju ... than just chocolate."