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Say aloha with Hawaii's carry-home foods.

Say aloha with Hawaii's carry-home foods

Travelers to Hawaii can bring home locally produced, good-tasting foods as gifts or reminders of the Islands' aloha spirit. Hawaiians call this practice omiyage (a Japanese word that literally means "bring back home'). A sampler of items to look for on your next visit follows.

Hawaii is a tropical fruit lover's paradise: you'll find coconuts, guavas, mangoes, lichees, papayas, passion fruit (lilikoi), poha berries, and of course pineapples.

But the only fresh fruits you can bring out of the state are pineapples and papayas fumigated for fruit flies (your bags may be inspected for nonfumigated fruit at the airport). To find a source for fumigated fruit, look in the yellow pages under Fruits, check advertisements in tourist magazines, or watch for airport displays. Most Honolulu companies deliver fumigated fruit to the airport.

All these fruits, however, are available preserved. Look for jams, jellies, syrups, chutneys, fruit cakes, and confections.

Bounty of the Outer Islands

Macadamia nuts are available around the world. But in Hawaii, where they grow mostly on the Big Island, you have more sizes, shapes (whole, sliced, or in broken pieces), and coatings (plain, salted, seasoned, or candy) to choose from, including macadamia nut breads and cookies.

Kona coffee is another Big Island specialty. Buy whole or ground beans, or confections flavored with the coffee. Platter-size pilot crackers are readily found in Hilo. The small city of Mountain View, overlooking Kilauea Crater, is the source of stone cookies good for dunking in your morning Kona coffee at home.

On Kauai, main agricultural products include sugar cane, papayas, bananas, and guavas. Papayas are the only fruit you can buy here fumigated, but you'll find locally made preserves of the other fruits.

Maui, well known for its extra-thick potato chips and large, sweet onions (available year-round), also has the only winery in the islands. Until grapevines mature, the Tedeschi Vincyard is making Maui Blanc, a light pineapple wine. However, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah don't allow individuals to bring in wine interstate; California and Washington require a permit (issued through the state's alcoholic beverage or liquor control board); and remaining Western states allow you to bring in a limited amount.

Oahu, melting pot of cuisines

The international melange of Hawaii's people and products is most vivid on the island of Oahu. You can find Asian products (Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese) in many specialty restaurants and stores. The largest concentration of these is in Honolulu's Chinatown area near King and River streets. Look for giant fortune cookies to fill with your own messages, dried fish and fruit, and all types of Asian cooking sauces and seasonings. Chinese crack seed fruit preserved in salty, sweet, and puckery-sour forms is a big hit with local schoolchildren.

The Portuguese influence is also strongly felt in Oahu. Look for Portuguese sweet bread (pao doce), doughnuts (malasadas), and spicy sausages in bakeries, delicatessens, and grocery stores.

You'll find it surprisingly difficult to locate Hawaiian (Polynesian-style) foods in Waikiki and downtown markets. But upon request, Oahu restaurants featuring these dishes will often wrap up their specialties omiyage-style (to go).

Some Hawaiian foods to look for that travel well: laulaus (smoked butterfish, pork, taro, and luau or spinach leaves wrapped in banana or ti leaves); marlin smoked over guava wood; and fresh (not fermented) poi, the sticky paste made from pounded, boiled taro. You can pack these perishable foods in lightweight and inexpensive insulated bags, available in Hawaii. Keep foods cool with dry ice wrapped in newspaper or plain ice sealed in heavy plastic bags.

Back home, you can keep laulaus refrigerated up to 2 days; steam-cook them until the pork is tender when pierced through the leaves, about 1 1/2 hours. The marlin, good for snacking, can be stored up to a week in the refrigerator. Fresh poi can be kept chilled as long as 4 days; Hawaiians like it with pork or pickled salmon.

Photo: Packed to the brim, this case contains just a few of the foods produced in Hawaii--from coffee and pineapple wine to jams, macadamia nuts, and potato chips--that make choice gifts to carry home to friends

Photo: Say aloha to a friend with Hawaiian gift pack of guava, poha berry, and pineapple jams
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Mar 1, 1984
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