Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Secrets of the Mountains & Oddities of the Farmer's Market

This Dr. Seussish-looking plant is a rare native called opelu, like the fish. It was growing in the ravine that we hiked through in the forest (nearly a month ago now, it's scary that the months flash by like days). It is called opelu because the underside of the leaves have a silvery irridescence like the fish flashing in the water. It is the mauka incarnation of the makai fish body, in the Hawaiian poetry of names and things.

Last week I turned up at the Na'alehu farmer's market and there on my neighbors table (she sells jewelry) were four Buddha's hands, a variety of citron celebrated in Chinese culture for its fragrance. What are the odds of that? Supposedly there are only two trees on the island, and those four hands are the entire crop this year for one of those trees. I bought two. My friend Lorie Obra, the coffee grower, kept asking me "What do you do with it?" Lorie is Filipino and I'm half-Filipino, and that is the quintessential Filipino question. We are very pragmatic. My explanations about the Chinese aesthetic of qikuai or strangeness, was not satisfactory to her. So after appreciated the weirdness of my Buddha's hands for a few days, I chopped up the less weird one into little bits and candied it. Very yummy. I'll take it to the farmer's market today to reassure Lorie that I have not betrayed my Filipino values.

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