August 23, 2008
I haven’t posted a lot of pictures lately… so, here’s a few.
Last fall, Anh and I were in Hawaii as well, and I was wearing my normal head-garb – Boston hat and sunglasses. Here was me then.
When I was looking through the pictures that we took on this trip, I was struck by basically the exact same picture (well, different profile), but basically the same. Here it is:
I have a hard time seeing the difference. Now, I wasn’t trying very hard – this was the beach after all.
For the past week we’ve been on vacation in Maui – in Wailea. We love Hawaii – I feel incredibly fortunate to live only five air-hours away. One of our favorite travel activities is searching out for local street food. Sometimes, the stranger or more out of the way, the better.
We had just been hiking at the end of the road (literally) south of Makena. The hike is beautiful – through a lava flow from the 1780’s that looks like it just happened last year, then through a set of wizened trees and little beaches that seem like a little slice of how Hawaii was long ago. We started early to avoid the heat, and on the way back from the hike stopped first at Makena Grill (advertised as the second best lunch in Makena). They listed their hours as “11ish” to “4ish” – Island Time – it was 11:20 and no sign of the Makena grill folks, so we decided to venture on.
Right across from the entrance to Makena State Park (aka Big Beach, aka Oneloa), there are usually roadside stands – hamburgers, hot dogs, fish tacos and shave ice – typical Hawaiian fare. We pulled up to the first one (looked promising – a homemade smoker appeared to be the cooking device of choice – cool! – with lots of fresh produce in evidence).
Anh walked up and started talking to the proprietor/chef/enforcer.
“Wait wait wait”, he said, with palm extended in the classic “Talk to the hand form”. His lips were pursed as if to say “Oh boy, this again.”
“Before you order, let me tell you about *my* food. I cook everything to order. We have burgers and fish sandwiches with mahi mahi. The burgers are the Kong Burger, which are this big (his hands up as if to hold a sandwich, fingers extended to their full length as if to make a giant ellipse), and they cost $14 each. It comes with cheese, lettuce, maui onion, roasted pineapple, tomato and mustard and catchup. I wrap it in the foil, and if you unwrap it, then it will fall apart. I only cook meat with meat, and fish with fish so if you want both, you’ll have to wait.”
“Ok, great. We’ll take a burger and three fish sandwiches” (there were seven of us total).
“You’ll have to wait. I cook everything to order.”
“Ok. No problem.”
“My food is expensive, but those hotels, they charge hotel prices, but they serve you shit.”
And with that, he began cooking. Slowly, methodically, cooking.
During the cooking he talked about how people around town have asked for his marinade recipe, and he said it would cost “10”, as in $10k.
“They are all crooks. They steal from each other. I was in the business, but I didn’t want any part of it.”
Cool! Dinner and a show! We like that.
While we were waiting, at least three other groups came up to order. Two of them walked up, and when he didn’t even look at them, they walked away. One other guy came up, and started to order, and he repeated the above caution about how big, how long and how expensive his food was. He walked too.
The burger guy’s response?
“These people, these people don’t want to wait. They don’t know good food.”
Anti-marketing… you have to love that.
At one point, Anh asked about additional hot pepper – jalapenos, or hot sauce. He chided: “If you add to much of that stuff, you can’t taste it. My stuff is seasoned plenty hot enough.”
And you know what? He was right.
The burger was great. The fish sandwiches – also great.
We also got fresh pineapple, papaya and coconut from him. The papaya came from his yard in Kihei, the coconut from his neighbor’s tree. (I’m guessing the pineapple came from a grower, but it was damn sweet).
He even prepped the coconut, making a handy scrapey-spoon from the outside of the coconut to get the meat out.
He totaled up our bill on the inside of a Ziploc bag box – it wasn’t cheap – just over $100 for the four sandwiches, a hot dog, two half pineapples, a coconut, a mango and drinks.
We decided to go back the next day, and get “Take out”, and bring it back to the beach.
When we arrived, he didn’t seem to recognize us – he started the same spiel about the burgers when we started to order, but Anh said, “We were here yesterday.” He said “Oh”, and started cooking.
While waiting (30 mins from when we ordered, and we were customer numero uno), there was another incident with non-marketing. These two even came up, and tried to talk to him, but he ignored them. They walked away.
One of his buddies was there hanging out there, and he was watching after his adopted three month old chicken. Turned out that this chicken was just hanging out at the stand, lost without the momma chicken, and the buddy started feeding him.
“Chickens crap on everything.”, chicken buddy said.
The chicken would climb up his finger, and onto his shoulder and back. Apparently the chick loved to poop on the dude’s back, because there was evidence – fresh and otherwise.
We loved our second round as much as the first – just as big – just as yummy – but we got some sort of discount – the second day the burgers were only $12, not $14. We even got a little wave as we were driving off.
He is a character – he knows what he likes – knows what he likes to make – and he makes great stuff… stop in!
(If you didn’t get the reference – Soup Nazi from Seinfeld)
August 19, 2008
We are on a beach vacation this week (not to be confused with Blogcation).
This presents an interesting challenge for me.
What. To. Wear.
Short answer – shorts and a UV top (no sunburn).
So far, in my experience, the more clothes I’ve got on, the harder it is to “pass”. Big winter stuff – not so much. The hardest group to pass with – kids and teens – without a doubt. Dirty (not crappy mind you) looks are highest per-capita in this group. The beach should be great then, right? Well, add in my outfit, and wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap (Red Sox, of course!), what should be easy becomes, well, less than that.
So, given that context, a few interesting bits so far on this trip:
(NB on the whole “Passing” thing. This is not my raison d’etre. I am who I am. However, I find the reaction to me to be just plain interesting. It doesn’t bug me not to pass (mostly)…)
– When we got here the other night, we were at Safeway getting some stuff for lunch. I was at the deli counter (no jokes please), and the very nice guy behind the counter was *overly nice* to me. This hadn’t happened to me before. It was o-d-d. I was not prepared for this. I was nice, and smiled, and got my turkey and roast beef, thank you.
– Peri broke a toenail today (kind of bad actually), and I went to the little nail hut near the beach to borrow a nail clipper to fix it. As I was sitting there, trimming her nail, a little girl (probably 6?) came up to me, and strated asking lots of questions:
“What are you doing?”
“Do you work here?”
When I said no, and I was just fixing her nail because it broke, she said:
“Oh, you are just her Mom, and you are fixing her toe then? Does it hurt?”
Peri and I just exchanged glances, she smiled, I smiled, and I said:
“That’s right… she’ll be ok!”
And that was enough for her! She smiled and was off.
As we were walking away, Peri said “Was I that nosy when I was that age? I don’t think I was.”
Oh yeah Peri, you were!
(NB. I’m not Peri’s mom. I am not confused on that point. Peri and John calling me “Daddy” all of the time generates quizzical looks, but that’s no biggie.)
(NB II. The little girl above was a sweetheart. She was genuinely concerned about Peri, which was super nice. I hope no one takes away anything remotely negative in my tone.)
– John was getting a Henna tatoo (fish skeleton) this afternoon, and when I went to pay, the tatoo lady was taking down my info.
“Ok, first name Mr. Wallent”
“Oh, I’m sorry… I’m a kayak guide in the morning, and with a wetsuit on, I get sirred all the time. Isn’t it funny?”
– We were at dinner tonight, and I was up, walking around with Samwich. Our server, who was a nice middle-aged lady says to me:
“Are you the grandma?”
“No… no, I’m not.”
That’s worse than asking someone when the little bundle of joy is coming and the answer is negative six months!
Needless to say, Anh has been calling me “Granny” all night…..
August 15, 2008
I really appreciate the kind pings and questions asking how I am, and why I kind of dropped off the face of the earth (at least from a blogging perspective) for the last three months.
I’m good! Anh is good, the kids are good – its all good.
I will be back in the blogging spirit soon, and writing about our many summer adventures including:
– my high five lessons
– Alaska: Cold no matter when you go
– The examination of all parts of my stomach
I’ll leave you with this nugget – Feist counting to 4….