Heavily inundated with recent torrential rains, the island of Kauai is now mucking through the mud in efforts to clean up the mess and get back to normal. Particularly hard hit was Hanalei in the northern part of the island. It was there about a year and a half ago that we spent one fine morning at Waipa Foundation for ‘Poi Day’. Never heard of poi? Try wiki. Under the supervision of staff members, we participated in the process of making poi from kalo (taro root).
It’s about time I shared these images. As of this date, the foundation’s website currently states that it is not able to receive visitors or new volunteers for Poi Day. Check the following link for more info: waipafoundation.org/community_poi
Cooked taro corms get a hands-on treatment to remove the tough outer skin. It seems like an easy enough thing to do, but handling the large, and often still hot tubers can be awkward.
We were showed a very straightforward method of peeling that our supervisor summed up as texting: grasp the taro with both hands and using your thumbs, rub off the skins as if you were texting a message!
The cleaned taro root is then cut in smaller sections to fit into a large food grinder.
We were literally up to our elbows in kalo. Buckets of it to clean, to cut up, and then back again. This was certainly no tourist activity, and I hope this post doesn’t come across as one. I’d say that the atmosphere was relaxed but everyone was focused on getting all of the kalo processed in time for lunch (free!) that comes afterwards.
Ground poi is then portioned, weighed, and readied for distribution.
After a long day (and a long drive since we were staying on the opposite end of the island), we were able to get a taste of all that effort from the complimentary bag of poi that was given us. Supper at the beach: dried akule, salad with fishcake, and poi!