When I moved to Hawaii in January of 1974, I was impressed by the hospitality of the people there. Whether local or transplants, the folks I met were kind and generous, especially when it came to sharing their food.
I was on the bus going home from work one night and sat next to a lady with a pan of sweet-smelling shoyu chicken on her lap. She must have sensed that I was hungry because without saying a word she carefully folded back a corner of the foil cover and picked up a chicken thigh. “You take,” she said.
One afternoon at Ala Moana Park I watched a large family having a picnic and I smelled the barbecue. A man who appeared to be in charge of the hibachi waved me over. “You like teriyaki?” he asked as he gave me a stick of marinated beef cooked to perfection.
I grew accustomed to accepting mangoes, guavas and papayas from neighbors who had so many falling from their trees that they insisted I was doing them a favor.
Co-workers brought their homemade cakes and cookies to our office or malasadas (Portuguese donuts) from Leonard’s Bakery. Leonard’s is a legend in Hawaii and a favorite place for locals to stop on their way to work.
Hawaii was a special place and time for me. Many of the foods I was introduced to there are unique to the islands. Here in Del Norte we have our own local foods and our own brand of hospitality.
Recently I visited our friend Norma who sent me home with two live crabs just off a boat. Saturday, Sarah left this message, “We caught steelhead today. Call if you’d like some.” I called her right back and within hours possessed a filet big enough to serve four hungry people.
It’s wonderful to receive crab and steelhead from people I know, but the mushroom story I’m about to tell you celebrates the generosity of a perfect stranger.