Hana Buttah Days

There are foods that always take me back to my hana buttah days, small kid time, as we say back home.  Foods that remind me of when I was a kid and the memories associated with them.  Then there are foods that just remind me of home, period.  I had this happening Thursday night when my husband and I were at a fairly new Kroger near his Cincinnati apartment.  This Kroger was unlike any other Kroger I’ve been in.  It had the look of a Whole Foods on the inside, but three times the size.  We were looking at wine first, then went to produce.  This is where the fun began.

We were looking at the large selection of organic produce.  The largest selection I’ve seen in any grocery store that wasn’t focused on health.  So, we were just strolling down the line and saying things like, “Look at that!”  Then my eyes fell upon it.  The bittermelon.  My eyes went wide and I said, “Ooooh!  Bittermelon!”  I picked one up, turned it over in my hands, looking and thinking, it’s been forever.  Bittermelon is used in Filipino dishes like pinakbet, a mix of different vegetables.  Then I did something that my husband laughed at me for doing, I hugged it.  Yes, I hugged it.  You laugh.  But, it is something that I do not see sold out in the mid-west/East/South, whatever region you want to consider this area.  I would have bought it, but I don’t know how to fix it.  So, when we got home, I sent a message to all my aunties back home asking for recipes.


My husband got a little ahead of me and was looking in some harvest bins and called for me to look.  My eyes went wide again and I immediately went for a bag.  LYCHEE!  This is another rarity in this area.  The Korean market that is down the street from us with carry it sometimes, but usually they will only get one shipment per season.  Lychee is something that always reminds me of my days on Moloka`i during those hana buttah days.  Some of our relatives had a tree in their yard.  I remember going over there to play during the day and they’d come in with a bucket of lychee.  We’d sit on the floor and watch TV while peeling and eating the lychee.  People out here will often ask me what lychee taste like.  Good question.  I always say grapes.  Texture-wise, they are similar to grapes, but taste-wise, nothing like it.  You see it’s hard to describe some of the fruits I grew up with that are not widely known (like lychee, mountain apple, or guava) because people don’t have a point of reference and it’s hard to say it’s like something else when it’s really not like anything else.  If you had to press me on a description of lychee, I’d say it’s like a sweet, fleshy flower.   You peel the red skin off and eat the white flesh.  100mg of edible fruit contains 170mg of potassium.  That’s a big punch for a little fruit.

We moved on to the “health food” section and my husband found coconut water.  I was lagging again, looking at the packaging of other things.

Coconut Water

When I heard him say coconut water, I had to make him clarify, coconut water or coconut milk.  He again said, “coconut water.”  Well, then I moved quickly to the end of the aisle he was on.  I checked the packaging on several different brands to make sure there was nothing added to them.  Only one ingredient on each box, unfiltered coconut water.  That meant, straight from the coconut.  Just like small kid time.  Coconuts were always fresh at my grandparent’s house.  I can remember them cutting them open and drinking the coconut water directly from the coconut.  I chose the O.N.E. brand simply because it was the better value.  Some health benefits of coconut water are:

  • It’s a naturally isotonic beverage that will rehydrate you and has the same electrolytic balance as our blood
  • It is a universal donor as it is identical to blood plasma
  • It carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • It raises your metabolism
  • It contains lauric acid which boosts your immunity.  Lauric acid is also in breast milk.
  • It will boost poor circulation
  • It helps cleanse and detoxify your digestive tract
  • It is more nutritious and healthy than milk and orange juice
  • It is naturally sterile

Ah, the foods of my youth.  I’ve enjoyed the memories just one shopping trip brought up.