Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Hawaiian Treat ShaveH Ice

Hawaii knows how to do summer right. They're kings at creating the perfect outdoor luau, or outdoor party. They have excellent konkatsu along with other street foods. They've taken shaved ice or as they put it shave ice to a whole other level. Hawaiian ice is what other ices should aspire to be.

Kim Severson got the lucky chance of reporting about these treat  for yesterday's New York Times Food section. It is also the subject of a doctoral thesis written by  Hi'ilei Julia Hobart who was born and raised on the eastern shore of Oahu. Ms. Hobart left paradise for N.Y.U. where she is one of the nine doctoral students earning a doctorate in food studies. The program there is a lot more interesting than other doctoral programs with past thesis exploring the cultural and historical importance of bourbon, bottled water and even the masculinity of cooking. What is interesting about shave ice's history is that it was always mentioned in numerous trade agreements.It  seemed odd that the US would protect it but ice signified status along with providing comfort to settlers who preferred chilled drinks and ice cream.over the sour tepid foods that native Hawaiians were used to eating.. Yet it wasn't the Americans that brought shaved ice to the islands.We have the Japanese to thank for the treat that's now being sold across the mainland United States.They  brought it over when they were hired as sugar plantation workers.

The Japanese shave ice is called kakigori and dates back from the Heian period , from around 794 to 1185 AD. Japanese immigrants opened up small stores in the early 1900's to serve the plantation workers, some of which sold shaved ice. By the 1950's it was sold at many Japanese mom and pop stores like the M. Matsumoto Grocery store on Oahu's north side.Now it's just Matsumoto's Shaved Ice where there's a half hour wait at times. How is shave ice different from those Sno-Cones or Italian ice that we're so used to here in the summertime? It starts with shaving ice from a huge block of ice, usually a machine does it  (although it can be done by hand as well). The ice itself should be slightly melting with a sheen. The goal is to create soft , fluffy flakes that can accept generous pours of syrup. Sno cones , on the other hand are nothing more than ice pebbles that are so hard the syrup runs off them and into the bottom of the cone. Italian ice is ice that has the syrup already  mixed in and then frozen, There is also an art to shave ice, with the shaver catching the ice as it falls from the blade and then mounding it into a  firm dome. The dome must be sturdy enough to hold the syrup yet soft enough to yield to a spoon. There can be one flavor or several together as President Obama likes his.
sometimes there's a scoop of ice cream underneath or sweet condensed milk drizzled on top.

Shave ice is a Hawaiian treat with an interesting history. It is also a  light and fluffy cooler on a hot summer's night. If you can get it. It truly is a treat.

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