Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Museum Review: Oceanian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art


It seems like everyone in New York City had the same idea on a cold, rainy day: let's go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art! I did.

I went specifically to take another, much closer look at their permanent exhibition of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. 

As you can guess, I was most interested in seeing the Oceanian section of this exhibition. The Oceanian portion consists of one large room full of mostly New Guinean art and also some other Melanesian objects, plus a number of side rooms including one split between Polynesian and Micronesian art, and one devoted exclusively to Island Southeast Asian art (Indonesia; Malaysia; Philippines; Taiwan; &c). I am unaccustomed to thinking about Island Southeast Asian cultures as part of (or related to) Oceania, but a passing look at the Southeast Asian artifacts does reveal some similarities with the rest of Oceania. And long histories of migrations across this region (and sharing of material cultures) also help explain why the Met's version of "Oceania" is so inclusive!

Polynesian Art

I was most interested in viewing the Polynesian collection, which I was quite dismayed to see only comprised one half of one small room:

Map introducing the viewer to the Polynesian Triangle: Hawaiʻi to the North; Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to the East; Aotearoa (New Zealand) to the Southwest

Tapa cloth from Wallis and Futuna, Polynesian islands located in the midst of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga

Map of Wallis and Futuna, western satellite islands of French Polynesia

Tapa (Hawaiian: Kapa) is a type of cloth made, most usually, from the paper mulberry tree (Hawaiian: wauke). All across Polynesia, tapa manufacture - which involves stripping the bark off the tree, and felting the strips together with tapa beaters, and then adding inked designs to the cloth using various types of stamping utensils - is women's work.

In my research into early nineteenth century Hawaiian material culture, I have found that tapa was used for a variety of functions. Most noticeably tapa was used as clothing, and in Hawaiʻi it was the only form of clothing used before imported European, American, or Chinese materials. Women wore tapa skirts and men wore tapa in a variety of fashions, including over one shoulder like a toga, and as a loincloth, called malo in Hawaiʻi. Tapa were also used as mats, as bedding, and as hanging separators between rooms in traditional Hawaiian thatch houses.

Detail of tapa cloth from Wallis and Futuna

I am lucky enough to have a little bit of my own tapa cloth right here in my apartment in New York City! It was a birthday gift from my girlfriend that she secretly picked up in Hawaiʻi: a tapa scrapbook in which we can store the mementos of our pacific voyages!

Here is an Hawaiian artifact:

Lei Niho Palaoa: Whale's tooth pendant on a necklace made of braided human hair

We saw many lei niho palaoa at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. As the object label here at the Met suggested, wearing a whale's tooth plus all that human hair on one's body was a way of absorbing great quantities of mana (divine power) from those objects (and the associations with whales and people that the objects always carried).

John Hayter, Boki and Liliha (1824), Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. 
Note that beautiful Liliha is wearing a Lei Niho Palaoa just like the one at the Met!

The last piece of Polynesian art that I wish to note is this object:

Statue from Mokumanamana (Necker Island), Hawaiʻi, c1000 CE

Few people in New York City might realize that the state of Hawaiʻi is much longer, east to west, than most any map cares to show us. Beyond Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, the most western human-inhabited Hawaiian islands, lie the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Long ago, Hawaiian people lived on Necker and Nihoa islands in the Northwest Hawaiian chain. This statue at top is testament to that.

Map of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands: the once-inhabited islands of Nihoa and Necker are closest to the still-inhabited Southeastern Islands.

Each island in Northwestern Hawaiʻi is the summit of a massive underwater mountain. Today these islands are home to Hawaiian monk seals and a variety of seabirds, but human settlement is no more.

Micronesian Art

Rebbilib: Marshallese (Marshall Islands) navigation stick chart: 
a map of the Pacific ocean for the training of navigators

Melanesian Art

Unfortunately for big fans of Polynesian art, like myself, the major room of the Oceanian art exhibit at the Met is devoted exclusively to Melanesian art, almost all of which represents the art of the Asmat people of the island of New Guinea.

Asmat art from New Guinea in the gorgeously-renovated exhibition room

Asmat art on the ceiling of the newly-renovated room

Why Asmat? I am not quite sure. But the fact that someone with the last-name Rockefeller traveled to that region of Indonesia numerous times, collected artifacts, and, I think, contributed funding to the exhibition, could be a likely explanation.

Conclusion

Overall, I was disappointed in the Met's permanent exhibition of Oceanian art. 

Why?

1) The lop-sided collection and/or exhibition of objects. While the curator is undoubtably challenged by having to place "A Third of the World in Three Rooms," as he puts it (in a lecture, mind you, that I have not yet seen), I believe that most visitors will not even realize that the Island Southeast Asia and Polynesia/Micronesia rooms (the smaller rooms) exist, and they will only see the large, gorgeous room with the oversized Asmat art from New Guinea in it. This lop-sided exhibition of Oceania hardly showcases "a third of the world" because it disproportionately highlights just a handful of ethnic groups and their arts while slighting the hundreds of other ethnic groups and material cultures from across Oceania.

2) Even more disappointing to me is that all of Oceania only gets three rooms in the entire Met, which is a HUGE museum. I have heard many people argue that because European art, for example, is globally appreciated as great art, then it makes sense to devote most of the Met to European art. But any such "global" perspective that compares art across the world and finds European art to the "best" should also make clear how histories of European and Euro-American imperialism and colonialism have forced Western arts upon other peoples and have trampled upon indigenous forms of art across the world. It is this legacy, I think, of Western ethnocentric domination that has made the Met the lop-sided way it is today.

3) Lastly, this is not just a Melanesian vs. Polynesian issue of disproportionate representations; nor is this just an issue of the West vs. the rest of the world. But what really bothers me about the Met is how peoples who do not make art objects that fall into the categories of "painting," "sculpture," "ceramics," &c, and that do not fall into the categories of "European," "American," or "Modern," have their objects relegated to the back rooms of unwieldy departments like "Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas." What do the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas have in common, anyway, besides all being lumped together as "different" (read: primitive) compared to Euro-American and European arts? 

The European art section isn't full of static representations of European pasts, but rather showcases the development of European art over many stages as it is influenced by outside developments and continues to redefine the meaning of art in European society. Same thing with the Euro-American exhibition. But why not Africa? Do not African artists develop and change their styles over time? Do they not respond to contact with outsiders and create beautiful hybrid objects that relate to African as well as other global influences, just like Westerners do? Same thing for Native North and South Americas. Same thing for Oceanian peoples. 

But what I saw at the Met was a representation of Oceanian people stuck in the past, as if their greatest artistic achievements are only the oldest or most traditional things they have ever made, as if their interaction with the rest of the world over the past half millennium has not contributed to any great new developments in Oceanian art. How can the paintings of each individual European master-artist of the nineteenth century be given such prominence on these walls (including Gauguin's paintings of Tahitian women), while we simultaneously are not even shown a single example of Oceanian art from the same time period that adapted to, responded to, incorporated, or challenged the influences of other peoples upon their world, just as the Tahitian people so greatly influenced Gauguin's.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Film Review: All About Whales: Whale Rider (2002) and The Cove (2009)

You may have noticed that the film, The Cove, won best Documentary film at the Oscars this year. It is the tale of Ric O'Barry, a man who is singularly responsible for the creation of dolphin captivity programs (think, Sea World and the like). Not long after working on the television show "Flipper" he realized that dolphin captivity was immoral. He has ever since, for about 40 years, been the leading activist against dolphin captivity programs.

Yet what The Cove tells us about dolphins goes way beyond the cruelties of Sea World. Most dolphins are captured for Sea World, swim-with-the-dolphins programs, etc., in a cove in Taiji, Japan. But very few of these dolphins captured end up in captivity; most are lured into another cove, the secret cove, where they are slaughtered. And these slaughtered dolphins end up packaged as food, sold mostly in Japanese grocery stores, although much of this dolphin meat is mislabeled as some other type of "meat."



Where The Cove is successful is in telling the tragic story of Ric O'Barry. We feel, deeply, his shame, and his sense of responsibility, the sense that he made this whole dolphin-capture mess, and now he must fix it. This is a well-told, tragic human story. As for the dolphins, how can we not feel sympathy for them? As you'll see in the movie, they scream for help like us, they bleed red like us. Seeing dolphins slaughtered in the cove, how can we not feel a collective shame for this? So, let us stop going to Sea World, just like we boycott zoos. The world will keep moving forward without dolphin capture and dolphin slaughter...right?

Paikea, the Whale Rider

The Māori of New Zealand have a legend about Paikea, the Whale Rider. Paikea migrated to New Zealand from Hawaiki upon the back of a whale (Hawaiki is not the same as today's Hawaiʻi, although the word is related; for the Māori it is a remembered ancestral place, much like how early Hawaiian legends refer to Tahiti). This legend helps make sense of Polynesian migration to New Zealand, which was an incredible historical moment when after thousands of years of eastward and northward migrations across the Pacific (Polynesian voyagers were the first humans to colonize the islands going east from Tonga to Samoa to Tahiti, the Marquesas, as far east as Rapa Nui [Easter Island]; Marquesan and Tahitian voyagers also colonized Hawaiʻi far to the north at two different times; AND strong evidence confirms that Polynesians had even visited South America before the second millenium) a late-stage, southwestern Polynesian voyage, into the unknown southern reaches of the South Pacific, brought Polynesians to New Zealand. And here, in New Zealand, they found the largest territory yet for Polynesian peoples to live. 


But most Māori today probably agree that their ancestors rode to New Zealand not on the back of a whale, but on a waka (in Hawaiian, waʻa), or canoe, one of which is prominently featured in the remarkable film, Whale Rider. In fact, a resurrection of "voyaging" upon waka/waʻa has been a major component of Polynesian ethnic revival across the Pacific during the past forty years, spearheaded by the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Thus the final scene in Whale Rider, where they finally finish building a long-unfinished waka and set off into the ocean in it, signals that Māori ethnic identity will prevail, although for much of the movie that cultural heritage seems in dire peril.

Whale Rider is a fabulous movie. It is based on the book by acclaimed Māori author Witi Ihimaera and the film stars the incredible young actress Keisha Castle-Hughes as Paikea, a young girl named after her ancestor Paikea, the Whale Rider. Young Paikea knows that she is destined to be the next leader of her Māori community, but her grandfather, the current leader and a strong traditionalist, believes that only a young man can be the Whale Rider; a woman has never, and could never, be the Whale Rider. Of course, Paikea proves him wrong. Good for her!



All About Whales

So how do these two films relate?

The core argument of The Cove is that dolphins are whales! Both are cetaceans. The movie is actually good at making us see that larger picture (dolphins-as-whales) by focusing on the IWC (International Whaling Commission) and the efforts of the Japanese delegation to the IWC to maintain a distinction between larger cetaceans ("whales") and smaller ones ("dolphins"). The Cove asks us to consider, really, what is the difference? Why should some cetaceans be protected and other not? 

The answer is that the Japanese do not want to give up on whaling, and while they would prefer to hunt all cetaceans, they do not want to give up the very profitable dolphin industry. The people of Taiji see these little whales as part of their cultural heritage, identity, and community. The people of Taiji, Japan, in a sense, have a cultural stake (And economic stake, too!) in preserving traditional human-whale relationships, which for them means some amounts of capturing, slaughtering, and autonomous control over dolphin conservation.

The Māori of Whangara, New Zealand, also have a cultural stake in whales. When about a dozen whales beach near Paikea's home near the end of the film, we see the community rush out to help them, exerting almost all their energy in an attempt to save these few whales. We can contrast this response with the energy expended by the fishermen of Taiji in trying to keep foreign journalists and activists away from their secret cove. Both incidents entail emergencies where cultural connections to whales are endangered. These incidents are at once so similar and yet so different.

In the end, The Cove is not a great movie, because it totally fails to give us a Japanese perspective on the dolphin slaughter. In fact, what the movie shows us is what we have already known for too long about environmentalism: environmentalism, as exemplified by this case, is a movement by well-to-do, urban, first-world, white people; and it is, as in this case, sometimes a very ethnocentric movement. In failing to really see (and show us) how the people of Japan think about whales and whaling, these activists also fail to see that their own vision of what the proper human-whale relationship should look like just doesn't make sense to other people in other circumstances.

The environmental activists in The Cove, however, make a good point. As do the fishermen of Taiji, Japan. As do the Māori of New Zealand. In my opinion, we do need to think more about whales - all kinds of whales, dolphins included - and we need to make global compromises about how to regulate human-whale relations. I think of this like vegetarianism. I am a vegetarian. While I acknowledge that my own ancestors ate meat, and that many types of meat, in fact, are a major part of my cultural heritage and identity, I have found that culture cannot be static. It must always change. But as my own family's culture moves from meat-eating to vegetarianism, we do not break a link with the past. Rather we build upon our past. We are making an ethical improvement upon our heritage. This is a choice, however, that it is only right for me to make for myself.

Young Paikea in the Whale Rider teaches us that traditions can and should change so that our heritage can be dynamic and vibrant and inclusive. And as for Taiji's dolphin-slaughtering cove, it is apparent that activists from the outside can hoot and holler as much as they want, but for meaningful change to occur in Japan, Japanese people will have to reinvent their own heritage, too, from the inside. As the Māori have. And as I have. The Cove will release in Japan this summer....so let's see what happens!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Census: Pacific Islanders in New York City

I was checking out this blog about Pacific Islander American (PIA) issues, and I found this link to a PDF with 2000 census data on Pacific Islanders in the United States. It is quite interesting.

For our purposes, we can summarize that while about 75% of Pacific Islanders live in the American West (mostly in Hawaiʻi and California), and after the West the South is the next biggest region of PIA settlement (historically why, though?), the Northeast does have its fair share of Pacific Islander Americans, too!

New York State Data

While only 4,457 Pacific Islanders were counted as living in New York State in the 1990 census, due to subsequent changes in reporting about race, that number rose to 8,818 New Yorkers in 2000 who claimed "Pacific Islander" as their sole race, and 28,612 total New Yorkers who claimed "Pacific Islander" as at least one part of their racial heritage.

The map on page 6 of the census report is particularly fascinating. Only 3 counties in NYS have a Pacific Islander population above 0.3% of the total county population (but in no counties in NYS do PIA constitute more than 1% of the population). What are these counties? Bronx, Tompkins, Jefferson

Strange? Maybe. There must be historical reasons for why Pacific Islander migrants have congregated in these parts of NYS. As for the Bronx, there really could be numerically more Pacific Islanders in Brooklyn, or Queens, for example, but as a percentage of population, they'd be most likely to achieve high marks in the Bronx, or Staten Island, where total population numbers are lower. As for Tompkins County, does it have anything to do with Ithaca? the college student population? I don't know. And as for Jefferson County, is it Watertown? I just don't know, but with these latter two counties having total populations of around 100,000 people, this data suggests that 300-1,000 Pacific Islanders live in each of these counties. That's substantial.

What about New York City?

In 2000 New York City counted 5,430 persons with "Pacific Islander" as their sole race, and 19,203 New Yorkers who claimed part-"Pacific Islander" heritage. That is to say, around 2/3 of all Pacific Islander New Yorkers live in the city proper rather than upstate or on Long Island.

So...with the fifth largest Pacific Islander population in the nation, New York City must have Pacific Islander cultural institutions. Which we must explore at a later date.

...and I wonder, what will the 2010 census tell us? 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Film Review: The Other Side of Heaven

Besides food, film is another possible way of experiencing the Pacific in New York City. 

Letʻs take Mitch Davis' 2001 Disney (eek!) film about a Mormon missionary in 1950s Tonga, 

So first off, where's Tonga?

The Tongan Islands, culturally, are part of Polynesia. Tonga is, in fact, on the western edge of Polynesia, because Fiji to its immediate west is considered part of Melanesia. But we must keep in mind that Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia are Western-oriented terms that, while still useful today, hide the fact that long-term exchanges of people, resources, and ideas have taken place between Tonga and Fiji for thousands of years.

Tongan cultural history, however, does not appear as important in The Other Side of Heaven as the fact that, simply, Tongans are Pacific peoples living quite differently than the white Americans of the same time. In the movie Christopher Gorham plays a white American, a young Mormon teenager from Idaho, and Anne Hathaway plays his girlfriend. Gorham is sent on assignment by the Church of LDS for a two and a half year stint teaching Mormonism on one of the most remote and most northern of the Tonga Islands.

Pretty much off the bat, we are told that this particular island has no white people currently living on it, and Gorham will be the only foreigner there. No mention is made of the longer histories of Christian missions in Tonga and throughout the Pacific. At least in the case of Hawaiʻi, Christian missionaries arrived as early as 1820 and had a major impact on Hawaiian society throughout the nineteenth century. Was Tongan history similar or different?

Hints of a history of interactions with Christian missionaries are evident, however, if you look close enough: in the rival Christian leader on the island (a Tongan) who Gorham competes with for the Tongans' allegiance; in the prevalence of the English language on the island; in the Tongan fashions, where traditional tapa (kapa) cloths do make their appearance, but Western-looking materials prevail.

But are these the manifestations of historic missionary activity? or rather the legacies of relationships with foreign traders, merchants, markets? what about legacies of colonialism? Knowing so little about Tongan history, it is nearly impossible for me to watch this movie and understand why the Tonga of the 1950s is the way it is presented in the movie.

An excellent cast of New Zealanders play the Tongan roles, including Joe Folau (who according to IMDB is apparently of Tongan descent), and Miriama Smith. Sometimes Smith as well as others in the New Zealander cast revealed a bit of a British-tinged accent in their speech, and I wondered if it was their New Zealand accent coming through. This made me wonder whether the director of this film was trying to coach the Polynesian actors to speak un-colonially? When I heard a little British-tinged English coming through, it made me consider what about Tongan history this movie was not telling us: under what circumstances did these Tongans learn English? from whom? again, back to those questions about previous Christian missionary activity, engagement with transoceanic traders and merchants, and what else? 

In the end, knowing so little about Tonga specifically, this film left me wondering whether the Tonga I saw on the screen was an effort at showing true 1950s Tongan history, or whether these were just stereotypes reflecting what Western audiences would like to think 1950s Tonga was like... 

That the movie ends with the uplifting, penetrating feeling that Mormonism was nothing but a good thing for these Tongans, some of whom we are reassured even migrated to California in the 1970s and found prosperity, as if their exposure to Mormonism was their ticket from "barbarism" to "civilization," makes me think that this movie's tale is, perhaps (even though it is based on a true story) just a reassurance of the age-old Pacific stereotypes that Westerners want to believe in.....

Nevertheless, despite Gorham and Hathaway's performances, I applaud the Polynesian actors and actresses who lent their talents to this film and served as ambassadors for Polynesian culture. Because while it is true that VERY FEW Western movies tell us anything useful about Oceanian peoples and places, this movie at least catches our attention, and makes us want to learn more about Tonga, its people, its places, its culture, and its (unexplained) history.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hawaiian Food, New York Groceries

Eating in Hawaiʻi

Back in January when we visited Hawaiʻi for the first time, we were lucky enough to eat a lot of really good food! I made every effort possible to eat poi, a thick paste made from mashed, cooked kalo (taro), but it was actually surprisingly hard to find good poi in Hawaiʻi. The best poi we found, however, was at Helena's Hawaiian Food near the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.


Best Meal Ever, Picnic lunch of Helena's Hawaiian Food

The basics of any traditional Hawaiian meal are fish and poi. In ancient Hawaiʻi, pig was also eaten along with fish, but mostly by the aliʻi (the Hawaiian elite, comprising royalty and chiefs). For the makaʻāinana (common people), fish and poi were the key to their livelihood and culture. Men went deep-water fishing off the coast while women fished the shoreline; on land, men grew kalo (taro) and cooked the meals, while women engaged in making kapa clothing from wauke (paper mulberry) bark. The gender divisions around the gathering and preparation of food were continued in the eating of food: simply, men and women could not dine in the same space together. These rules, known as kapu (in English, "taboo"), were enforced by aliʻi until 1819 when King Liholiho ended the practice.

Anyway, like a makaʻāinana of old Hawaiʻi, I had fish and poi for lunch at Helenaʻs that afternoon. Pictured in the left cup is poke (a seasoned raw fish salad made with cubed ʻahi and seasonings) and ʻopihi (raw snails). If I had known it was going to be raw fish and snails, I might have passed, but it tasted great, and I only knew what poke and ʻopihi were once I looked them up in my Hawaiian dictionary afterwards.

Pictured on the right is a cup of poi. Poi is made from cooked kalo (taro) root that is, after cooking, pounded into mush; water is added until the right consistency is found. I ate some with a spoon, but it is supposedly meant more as a dipping sauce, so I dipped most of my poke and ʻopihi in the poi. 


The taro fields of Hanalei, Kauaʻi [the source of much Hawaiian poi]

I was reading recently in an 1823 primary account by an English missionary in Hawaiʻi of a large feast where aliʻi passed around a huge gourd full of poi and they each took turns dipping their foodstuffs in the poi bowl before consuming:

"[There was] a large wooden bowl of poe [poi], a sort of thin paste made of baked taro, beat up and diluted with water, placed by the side of their plates, from which they frequently took very hearty draughts.
"Two favorite lap-dogs sat on the same sofa with the governor [Governor Kuakini of Hawaiʻi], one on his right hand and the other on his left, and occasionally received a bit from his hand, or the fragments on the plate from which he had eaten.
"A number of his punahele, (favorite chiefs,) and some occasional visitors, sat in circles on the floor, around large dishes of raw fish, baked hog, or dog, or goat, from which each helped himself without ceremony, while a huge calabash of poe [poi] passed rapidly round among them." (William Ellis, 1823)

Recently I was also reading Jacobus Boelen's narrative of his 1828 trip to Hawaiʻi, and he mentioned a similar scene where the young King Kauikeaouli ate with the help of a servant who sat at the king's side with a bowl of poi. As Boelen reported, the king took big and frequent bare handfuls of poi into his mouth while he was eating and talking. 

As a final historical anecdote, in the 1850s and 1860s sugar plantation owners in Hawaiʻi attempted to get their newly-arrived Chinese employees to eat poi for sustenance. The Chinese workers however demanded rice instead. Not only would this Chinese resistance to poi lead to the growth of rice agriculture in Hawaiʻi (much thanks to these Chinese migrants, many of whom took up independent rice farming after serving in the sugar fields), but this legacy of resistance is even present today. Most eateries in Hawaiʻi, including Helena's, give customers the choice of either rice or poi with their fish.

We also sprinkled on top of our food some ʻalaea (red Hawaiian dirt) salt. ʻAlaea salt is said to be very healthy, and it was so good that we even brought a pouch of the salt back to New York with us!

Eating in New York

During our first few weeks back on the U.S. mainland - back in NY - I was pretty gung-ho about preparing traditional Hawaiian cuisine in the Big Apple. What I tried to make was this:

Lomi Salmon
Poi
and Haupia (a traditional pudding made from coconut and arrowroot (pia), or these days, cornstarch)

With the salmon (I ended up buying an Atlantic farm-raised variety at the local store), I was just about ready to begin to lomi ("massage") the salmon when I realized that I needed to salt the salmon first! So I found this website that explains how to salt the salmon. But even after salting the salmon (with the ʻalaea salt we brought back from Hawaiʻi) I did not realize that the salmon had to sit for days absorbing the salt. And so we waited....
...and then when the salmon was salted (although I did not know how to tell if it was salted enough or not!), I began to lomi the fish: meaning that I rubbed it between my hands and my fingers, gently flaking the salmon into small pieces. I very much enjoyed the idea of lomi, but it was apparent that I needed as much practice with lomi as I could get, so my girlfriend kept offering me the opportunity to "lomi" her shoulders! Lucky her :) To lomi the salmon was much more complicated, however.

As for the poi, my struggle began with the simple need to find taro. Is there taro in NYC? The Hawaiian recipe book we bought in Kauaʻi, Entertaining Island Style, hinted that I could try going to an East Asian grocer in NYC for taro. So I ended up walking to somewhere on Manhattan's Lower East Side to a Japanese grocery store, but taro they did not have. And that was that. I gave up on making poi. We would, like the Chinese sugar workers of mid-nineteenth century Hawaiʻi, eat rice instead.

Haupia: simple. I mixed sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, coconut shavings, and lots of cornstarch. In fact, I ended up using about 10 times more cornstarch than the recipe called for! And yet still the pudding would not congeal any harder than a thick soup. So we ate soupy haupia with spoons and bowls and cups for the next week. It tasted fine, but I missed that silky consistency of the haupia we had in Hawaiʻi, especially at the Hanapepe Cafe on Kauaʻi, where they make haupia resting on a bed of purple sweet potato pudding made from Okinawan sweet potatoes. YUM!

We have yet to "eat out" at any Hawaiian establishments in NYC, but I have at least heard of this place. Anyone want to check it out with me? Or have you heard of any others?