If You Are Invited to a Potluck in Hawai’i…

(A Celebration of Diversity)

If you are invited to a potluck in Hawai’i, then you should probably say yes.

If this is your first time, then you might be surprised by the amount of food crowded onto the tables.

If you are overwhelmed by the amount of food, you might want to start by narrowing down a specific food with which to start.

If you like chicken, then you’ll probably want to head for the foil pans of chicken katsu, chicken long rice, or adobo.

If you decide on chicken katsu, then you’ll probably want some tonkatsu sauce to go with it.

If you prefer pork, then you might look for ti or taro leaf wrapped lau lau, or scoop yourself a nice helping of kalua pig (kalua pork).

If you go with the kalua pork, I suggest you pair it with a side of mac salad.

If the mac salad filled up the last bit of room on your plate, you’ll probably need to grab a second one so you can help yourself to the kielbasa and sauerkraut hot dish or green bean casserole before you get to the rice cooker table.

If you are confused by the large number of rice cookers present, then you will probably be surprised when the potluck runs out of sticky rice later.

If you are a rice enthusiast, then you might want a scoop of both sticky rice and fried rice.

If you see a deli-size container of what might look like chunky salsa, you’ve probably stumbled upon some poke (poh kay) (but unless you’re one of the first people in line, it might just be an empty container).

If raw fish freaks you out (and I won’t spend too much time convincing you so that I don’t have to share) then you might be more interested in some spaghetti.

If you are surprised to see hot dogs in the spaghetti, don’t worry, that’s normal.

If you like hot dogs, then you’ll probably enjoy a nori-wrapped spam musubi.

If the musubi reminds you of sushi and you’re looking for something with a little heat, look on the tray from Genki Sushi for spicy tuna rolls and get some wasabi to go with it.

If your mouth is on fire from the spicy tuna, you might want to go back for some dessert.

If you like healthy desserts, you probably will scoop a helping of mango, pineapple, or papaya.

If you want something both refreshing and fun to look at, then also scoop up a few lychee or dragonfruit.

If you have a helping of fresh island fruit, you might want some mochi to go with it.

(If you have only had mochi ice cream, then you might be surprised to see the tiny squares are not melting (my favorite is butter mochi.)

If you want something deep fried, you will probably grab a Sata Andagi or Malasada (just make sure they’re hot).

If you’ve finished your plate, then you’ll probably want some POG to wash it down.

If you’re full, but just noticed another table full of vibrant purple Okinawan sweet potatoes, a box of pizza (hopefully with garlic balls from Big Kahuna), and shoyu chicken, then you’ll probably want to be invited to another potluck.

Author’s Note: This list represents only a small portion of the vast culinary culture of Hawai’i — many fantastic cultures and foods were not mentioned. I have tried, and eaten, all of these foods at various potlucks in Hawai’i, and as a self-identified foodie, I believe we can find some of the best connection and appreciation for others by eating together.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” – Revelation 4:11

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8

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