When I was little, every so often my father would take us for a drive around the island. This was an all-day affair, where we’d see what we could see and eat what we could eat all over O’ahu.
I loved spotting the lunch wagons parked along the Honolulu waterfront, hoping to feast on an onolicious plate lunch with beef stew, teriyaki, or breaded mahimahi. No matter what you ordered, you always got two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. But usually we’d drive right on by because it wasn’t lunch time yet. This only intensified my fascination with lunch wagons: I thought it would be so cool to cook on a little stove in a truck and wait on people through the window on the side.
I don’t know exactly when people in Hawai’i started calling lunch wagons, “food trucks.” But they’re still a big part of the local scene, enticing the always hungry on side streets and main streets with longstanding island favorites as well as gourmet treats.
In jaunty rhyming verse, Beth Greenway’s Hawai’i's Food Trucks on the Go! takes kids on a fun and tasty ride around the island from sunrise to sunset.
The trucks all rev their engines up
and head out on their way:
it’s time to feed the working cars
this bright Hawaiian day.
The Harbor’s where the cranes all work
unloading boats and ships,
a bowl of saimin’s great for lunch
just right for slurps and sips.
Each cheerfully decorated truck serves up a different specialty on its designated turf: Kim’s Korean BBQ downtown, saimin at the harbor, Spam® Musubi at the North Shore, poi in Waikiki, poke at Ewa Beach and laulau in Kapolei.
The North Shore surfers like to munch
on musubi with Spam®,
another food truck, Yuko, cooks
fried rice with bits of ham.
Kahuku’s shrimp is number one
the locals all agree,
the trucks roll up and park between
the mountains and the sea.
This mouthwatering traveling menu celebrates Hawai’i's rich cultural diversity, as Ms. Greenway incorporates Hawaiian place names and food terms from several languages in her rhyming couplets. What could be more fun to read aloud than chewy mouthfuls of rolling-like-the-waves syllables — malasadas, manapua, Waimanalo?
There’s Manuel’s malasadas, yum,
served any time of day,
and Kimo’s manapua truck
past Waimanalo Bay.
Tablason’s trucks, cars, and boats are colorful, charming, and brimming with personality. Each truck is proud of its offerings and so happy to share. At the end of the day, all the food trucks meet downtown to “party down,” reminding us that after a hard day’s work, it feels good to meet friends, relax and play.
Certainly all my childhood favorites are mentioned in this book, so I know local kids will drool in recognition. Munchkins who’ve never been to Hawai’i will enjoy this first taste and tour of the city streets, mountains and beaches. Young ears will love the musicality of the Hawaiian language and of course will be very curious to try some of the food. Who wouldn’t like a deep-fried Portuguese doughnut, a steamy bowl of noodles, a soft bun full of sweet roast pork, a hot dog baked inside a waffle, a refreshing cone of finely shaved ice drenched in strawberry, pineapple, and coconut syrup?
Hawai’i's Food Trucks on the Go! introduces young readers to a much beloved island tradition rooted in the old days at Honolulu Harbor when pushcart peddlers sold soft drinks, snacks, and plate lunches to stevedores, sailors, cruise ship passengers, and laborers passing through the immigration station. Busy people from all over the world united by their love of food!
Whether from pushcart, lunch wagon, or food truck, there’s nothing like the personalized experience of eating something yummy in the warm Hawaiian sunshine, purchased from a small vendor while you’re on the go.
Now, step up to my window, reach through your computer screen, and help yourself to some local favorites:
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HAWAI’I'S FOOD TRUCKS ON THE GO!
written by Beth Greenway
illustrated by Jamie Meckel Tablason
published by BeachHouse Publishing, 2012.
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
Cool themes: Hawai’i, food, diversity, travel, vehicles.
A perfect share for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!
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Ed DeCaria is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Think, Kid, Think! Truck on over and sample all the poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week!
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This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food related posts. Put on your bibs and aprons, and come join the fun!
*Spreads from Hawai’i's Food Trucks on the Go! posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2012 Beth Greenway, illustrations © 2012 Jamie Meckel Tablason, published by BeachHouse Publishing. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.