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A Feasible Feastible Festival of Local Flavor

July 25, 2009

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

In case any of you have forgotten, food is one of my (re)past times. I have a food blog (sort of defunct, sadly), since I'm a busy gal that doesn't always have time to write about her daily foodings.

Keeping in the vein of keeping my blog Oberlin-centric, even if I'm a few thousand miles removed, I'm going to do a run down of local food things I like to play with, in Oberlin industrial kitchens and Hawaiian home kitchens. Kitchens are my playgrounds, but with infinitely more sharp objects and dangerous things the average kid shouldn't play with.

A funny parallel to be noted: I started cooking in my kitchen in Kentucky. When I came to Hawaii, I went into a food service program at my high school, where I learned classical cooking technique and practice, competed in food competitions, and aided in cooking events at restaurants and hotels. (There's a bunch of stories here, just ask and I will share.) When I got to Oberlin, I started cooking in Harkness, a big commercial-sized kitchen. Next year, I'm still in Harkness and plan on cooking there, too, but I'm looking forward to my small kitchen to make a single serving of soup rather than over one hundred.

I'm getting a little off-topic... I'm here to talk about local food! OSCA-ians have a love-love relationship with local food, which we get from George Jones Farm, the OSCA garden plot, and other nearby farms. Granted, these depend on seasons and the growing year in general, but this is the beginning of a list:

Carrots, potatoes, cabbage, greens (kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, collard, mustard), local herbs, beets, turnips, onions, corn, apples, peaches... and the list goes on.

Each year, there is a local food fest, complete with an Iron Chef competition, locally grown foods and lots of good music. Last year was Iron Chef: Battle Apple... a delectable battle in which everyone's stomach wins. (And so does Harkness, but that's another story.)

Do you like gardening and local foods? If you're an incoming freshman, you might end up on George Jones Farm for Day of Service (If you haven't signed up yet, Day of Service is a wonderful service opportunity before the beginning of the fall semester, offered through the Bonner Center for Service and Learning), or go visit the farm on one of the OSCA-orientation days at the farm. If you want more than just a day in the dirt, OSCA has positions for members both working on the farm or doing local food pickups.

Even if you're not in OSCA, you'll be happy to know that CDS proudly serves local foods as often as possible too. They buy lots of things from George Jones, too.


I've never been totally enamored with my Hawaii home, but one thing that I really do like about this place is the available foods to play with, a flavorful playground for dancing tastebuds.

As silly as it seems, most of these fruits and veggies drop their fruit everywhere, making a much greater variety in Hawaiian roadkill. My food playpen contains these things and more...

Mango, avocado, pineapple, lilikoi (Hawaiian passion fruit, my personal favorite), breadfruit, banana, lychee (and siblings rambutan and longon, crazy looking fruits but tasty), dragonfruit, figs, oranges, lime, lemon, pummelo, Suriname cherry, guava, vanilla, purple sweet potato, kabocha squash, corn, Japanese eggplant, Thai basil, daikon, sprouts, hearty Chinese greens, and hydroponically grown tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce. I know, it's a ridiculous fruit salad, and some of them I hadn't even heard of before I arrived here.

Oh, and Kona coffee. Can't forget the Kona coffee. Despite being a college student, I actually don't like coffee. But I do like Kona coffee.

Either way, I really miss this sort of fruit variety, both fresh and to cook with, when I'm holed up in the snow in Oberlin. My mom canned some some passion fruit concentrate and shipped it to school, which made for delectable passion fruit curd cupcakes in November and some tasty lilikoi lemonade at the end of May.

In the past few years, a variety of local foods festivals have popped up, urging the use of more local ingredients in the restaurants around the islands. The Kona Coffee Festival (now in its 39th year) has a recipe competition, along with cupping competitions (the equivalent of a wine-tasting, but in white cups rather than glass goblets), a beauty pageant, coffee walks, and parades.


To make your tummies grumbly, here are some food photos:

Baskets of cheese for sale
Local Foods Fest 2008... local vendors at last year's festival.


People carrying plates walk through a food line.
College and community members chow down on entries of Iron Chef: Battle Apple.


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Plates full of co-opy goodness: entries from each co-op sit in front of Iron Chef: Battle Apple judges awaiting scoring.


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Green Kona coffee beans beginning to ripen.


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Lychees, one of the tastiest Hawaiian fruits. It's the texture of a grape, with a seed, but the taste of honey.


Small eggplants in a basket
Japanese eggplant harvested from our little garden last summer.


Basket full of yellow fruit
And my personal favorite... passion fruit! Lilikoi! They look like dinosaurs-like Easter eggs. It's like the most flavorable citrus juice you'll ever encounter.


A delicious, creamy pie.
And in action... a lilikoi chiffon pie. Stop drooling on your keyboard.


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