OCHAZUKE: MANGOES, MANGOES, MANGOES
Thu, Jul 31 2014
By GWEN MURANAKA
Macaron ikaga desu ka? That was my spiel last Saturday at the Mangoes at the Moana festival in Waikiki.
With my white apron, boxes and boxes of handmade macaron cookies, and my husband at my side, I offered samples to the tourists and locals who attended the Mangoes at the Moana festival at the Moana Surfrider.
It felt a little like being one of those servers at Costco as festival-goers would descend in waves to try free samples.
Desserts like macarons are meant to be enjoyed with the eyes as well as the taste buds, so once I had cut and smashed the little chewy cookies into samples, I had woefully destroyed a big part of their appeal, but folks seemed to enjoy them.
Next up for Eric, a sampling of chocolate and vanilla macarons at Rob Fukuzaki’s golf tournament for the Heads Up Youth Foundation that took place this week.
There was even a Rafu reader, a Hawaii local, who read about the event in my column and stopped by to say hello. Chefs, including Lee Anne Wong, a former “Top Chef” contestant, now executive chef at Koko Head Café in Honolulu, created dishes using all manner of mangoes. In a large exhibition hall, samples of fresh-cut mangoes of many varieties were there to sample. I had no idea that there were so many different types with different degrees of sweet and tart.
Afterwards, my nephew Kenny gave us a Haden mango and explained that the Haden is prized by locals for its sweetness.
According to the mango industry’s official website, there are six varieties that are most common in the U.S. The Haden actually originated in South Florida in 1910.
All smiles at the Mangoes at the Moana Festival in Hawaii. (Photo by Leslie Naritoku)
Maybe it’s their tropical origins, but the names of mango varieties sound to me like characters out of a Jimmy Buffett song: Ataulfo, Haden, Francis, Kent, Keitt and Tommy Atkins.
I imagine them all hanging out poolside in tacky Aloha shirts and big bellies, drinking tropical drinks. With mangoes, naturally.
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A lot of mainland Japanese Americans with ties to Hawaii avoid Waikiki and all its tourists. Highlights for us are places like Like Like or Rainbow Drive Inn. When I was a kid, I’d go with my mom to Sears, Liberty House, Crack Seed Center and Shirokiya in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Today, most of that mall caters to upscale overseas tourists and is now packed with the latest fashions from Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Prada.
Since the festival was in Waikiki that’s where we spent the bulk of our time. A highlight was a visit to the Lawson convenience store, conveniently located in the Sheraton Waikiki where we were staying.