Kau Kau

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Kau Kau: Cuisine & Culture in the Hawaiian Islands

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Kau kau: It’s the all-purpose pidgin word for food, probably derived from the Chinese “chow chow.” On Hawai‘i’s sugar and pineapple plantations, kau kau came to encompass the amazing range of foods brought to the Islands by immigrant laborers from East and West: Japanese, Portuguese, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, Koreans and others. On the plantations, lunch break was “kau kau time,” and the kau kau could be anything from adobo to chow fun to tsukemono.

In Kau Kau: Cuisine and Culture in the Hawaiian Islands, author Arnold Hiura—a writer with roots in the plantation culture—explores the rich history and heritage of food in Hawai‘i, with little-known culinary tidbits, interviews with chefs and farmers, and a treasury of rare photos and illustrations. This hardcover book includes the essential—the “Kau Kau 100 Ethnic Potluck Primer,” a guide to 100 different items commonly found in local cuisine—and the esoteric—a 1920’s recipe for a “poi cocktail”—in a single, well-researched volume. From the early Polynesians to the chefs of fusion cuisine, Kau Kau follows those who have shaped Island society with their food and folkways: immigrant plantation workers from East and West, the military in wartime, modern entrepreneurs who tap the potential of local tastes and diversified agriculture, and many others.

Author Arnold Hiura is an independent writer, editor and media consultant based in Honolulu. He is a partner in MBFT Media, which provides communications and creative services to Hawai‘i companies and community organizations. He previously served as editor of the Hawaii Herald and curator for the Japanese American National Museum. Born and raised in the sugar plantation town of Papa‘ikou, about five miles north of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, he spent several years researching Hawai‘i’s culinary traditions to compile Kau Kau, which received the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association’s Ka Palapala Po‘okela Award of Excellence in Cookbooks. Hiura also co-wrote James Beard Award-winning chef Alan Wong’s cookbook, The Blue Tomato.

Hardcover w/ dustjacket; 184 pp
Author: Arnold Hiura
Release Date: December 2009

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