Bourdain’s Field Notes

Those of us who were not born in Hawaii, who do not live there, can be forgiven, I hope, for imagining it a paradise.

Hawaiians might want to disabuse us of this notion—patiently or maybe stridently, pointing out that unemployment on the islands is so brutal that young Hawaiians are finding it nearly impossible to find affordable housing in the communities they were born in. Or noting that traffic gets worse every year.

But we have a hard time seeing anything but gin-clear water, green mountains and the kind of place we’d like to die. Perhaps drifting off in a hammock, maybe with the sound of ukuleles in the distance. The only immediate sign of death is the shaker glass full of Mai Tai that falls from our liver-spotted hand.

And it is those things, surely; a place where a gentleman such as myself might spend the rest of his years, padding about in a sarong, smoking extravagantly good weed, eating pig in many delicious, delicious forms.

But Hawaii is actually much, much cooler than we know. MUCH cooler.

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“A simple question like ‘Who is Hawaiian?’ gets you all kinds of answers.”


Haole: a person who is not an indigenous Hawaiian.
Hōkūleʻa: a double-hulled sailing canoe; a replica of the kind of craft believed to have been used by ancient Polynesian navigators.
Friendly Island: A sardonic nickname for Molokai.
ʻĀina: Hawaiian word for “land”; it translates literally to “that which feeds you.”
Ohana: Hawaiian word for an extended circle of family and close friends.
Kūpuna: Hawaiian word for ancestors.

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