I met Natalia on Cyprus. Natalia, as her name might suggest is Russian. At the time I was living in Haifa, Israel. I grew up in Hawaii. My childhood upbringing introduced me to Hawaiian foods which I immediately fell in love with. Only Ono (delicious)!
This included a delicacy called Opii. Every time I left Hawaii to different parts of the world, as soon as I could get back to Hawaii, it was to a Hawaiian restaurant first. Thank God they get Hawaiian food here in the Bay area were we now live. In my refrig right now I get poi, Lau lau, Poki, kalua pig, Hey! Sorry if I make you hungry (I know some of my Hawaiian friends read this). Gene at Takahashi Market, ‘the Hasigawa General Store of the Bay area’ and I are on first name basis. He even put my Pau Pilau on his shelf for sale. Just like Hasigawa General Store in Hana! Little bit of everyting.
Any way to my great surprise, I mean really, totally unexpected, Natalia and I on Cyprus are strolling along this rocky beach. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I spook one Opii! I could not believe it. Really! I ran down to it and inspecting it. Took my keys out of my pocket and popped that bugga off the rock. Sure enough! One Opii!
Now up to this point, here was the situation with me and Natalia. I mean she knew I was from Hawaii. That I grew up in Hawaii. But in her eyes she only saw one typical looking Haole Kane) (white guy). I can speak Haole Kane but you put me in with jus one Hawaiian and I’m off brah!
So as I was saying, Shee! Only throw me off! She sees me take off down the rocks. I crouch down and am picking something off the rocks. Next thing, I am calling out to her, ‘Hey Nat, look! Opii! Really! You like?’ as I pop it into my mouth.
There I am popping these big Opii, only choke, so many! off and eating one afta da other!
Ono! It had been almost 9 months since I had Opii! Gift from God! Yummy, yummy!
But this whole time, Natalia has not moved! She is like froze! Not moving. I finally come back to my senses and look at her. “These Opii are delicious. You got to try one!”
She is not moving.
Finally she dares to come down and look at one Opii close up. Then she looks at me. She looks at me the same way she was looking at the Opii. It isn’t good!
I try to appease her. “Hey, in Hawaii this is a rare delicacy. Opii is such a popular pu pu (snack or side dish) that only get very few left.”
This did not amuse her.
She scrunches up her face and walks away.
I’ll be there in a few minutes.
Our relationship some one survived this incident. And would you believe it? She now eats Opii lomi lomi (slightly boiled Opii, raw onions, diced tomatoes chill). She loves Poki, sashimi, Poi! She really likes Poi and poki! Who wouldn’t!