friday feast: hawai’i’s food trucks on the go! by beth greenway and jamie meckel tablason

food trucks cover

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.

plate lunch (2) fish 500
Mahi Plate Lunch via Go Backpacking

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.

food trucks one
All illustrations © 2012 Jamie Meckel Tablason

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.

food trucks two

The North Shore surfers like to munch
on musubi with Spam®,
another food truck, Yuko, cooks
fried rice with bits of ham.

food trucks three

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?

food trucks four

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?

shave ice
Aoki’s Shave Ice via Just Hungry

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:

ahi poke
Click for Hawaiian Ahi Poke (Fresh Seafood Salad) recipe by Alice Currah/Sweet Savory Life via Tasty Kitchen
forty_niner_saimin_bowl5
Saimin via The Tasty Island
mackys1spicy shrimp
Macky’s Spicy Hot Shrimp Plate via Just Hungry
plate_asahi_kalbi5
Korean Kalbi (BBQ Shortribs) via Pomai Test Blog
Spam Musubi
Spam Musubi via Larissa Monologues (click for recipe)
manapua
Click for nice post about Manapua at Reggie’s KauKau Time Blog.

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food trucks coverHAWAI’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!

* * *

poetryfriday180Ed 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!

* * *

weekend cooking button (2)180This 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!

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*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.

65 thoughts on “friday feast: hawai’i’s food trucks on the go! by beth greenway and jamie meckel tablason

  1. Cool! We used to live near Philadelphia and I LOVED going to the food trucks. They always had different nationality foods. Now we live in the country and the only one there is a BBQ one (it’s pretty good). I miss them.😦

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  2. Isn’t slurps and sips great alliteration. Love those words together. How great you found another truck book. And now I’m hungry😉

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  3. I’ve never tried Spam, but I’d be willing to give that spam musubi a go! Hawai’i’s Food Trucks looks clever and beautifully illustrated.

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    1. Hmmmm, Spam is king in Hawai’i! There are many variations of Spam Musubi — just plain with rice and seaweed wrapped around it, or with other fillings like eggs, etc. Really hits the spot🙂.

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  4. Oh my, Jama. The photo of shave ice took me right back to Hawaii. Maryland snowballs are no match for the Hawaiian version.

    My sister in law lived in Hawaii for quite a while. I’m going to pick up a copy of the book for her to share with my niece and nephew — looks like a great combination of food, culture, and driving (for little car and vehicle fans).

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    1. The cars and trucks are quite endearing. I may be a tad biased, but Hawai’i has the best shave ice. Who else has the ice so finely shaved, and served with ice cream and azuki beans?

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  5. We ate from a really yummy food truck while driving the road to Hana on Maui. Can’t remember the main dish exactly but there was definitely rice and macaroni salad!

    What a cute book idea for kids and fun illustrations!

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    1. Oh, that road — that unforgettable road to Hana. Quite an adventure! Glad you found some tasty sustenance along the way🙂.

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  6. What a charming book! That shave ice looks particularly enticing. I am such a fool for food trucks – we have a wide variety in Manhattan, and its always such a grand adventure to try something new out.

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    1. Food trucks have reached cult status everywhere! Of course Manhattan would have tons of them offering everything under the sun. Lucky you :)!

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  7. Jama,
    Thank you for introducing me to this book. I MUST get my hands on it to taste it for myself. I’ve just returned from a two week stay on Oahu and Kauai. The food was delicious.
    I’m celebrating Syttende Mai on my blog today. Youmight enjoy themention of all the Norwegian foods.

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    1. Didn’t know you were in Hawai’i! Food just seems to taste better over there . . .

      *hopping over to your blog for a taste of Norwegian*

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  8. Hawaiian food trucks…now THAT’S a manuscript I’d like to spend some time ‘researching’…if you know what I mean! And those food pics look yunny – especially the Korean Kalbi.

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  9. I’ve never been to Hawaii, Jama. This is such a wonderful tradition. We now have food trucks in Denver, but mostly from the usual restaurants we can already go to. The food carts in various parts of town are still busy & there is an especially good place to buy delicious tamales. What a great picture book for sharing about a part of Hawaii visitors might not know about at all.

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    1. Yum, tamales! Good to hear Denver has some good food trucks too. FT seem to be popping up more and more all over the country🙂.

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  10. I thought this post was going to be pictures of food trucks from your recent trip to Hawaii…what a surprise to find a rhyming book about the food trucks! You hit it spot on when you pointed out “the musicality of the Hawaiian language.” Fun, fun, FUN!

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    1. This is definitely a fun read aloud, and a great way to introduce kids to Hawai’i’s culinary delights (best part about visiting there, IMHO).🙂

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  11. Oh, I shouldn’t have read this post before breakfast. Now I have to get dressed and go find a food truck! (Not an easy task where I live.) Thanks for sharing this delectable look life in Hawaii.

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  12. Oh, a lot of that looks so yummy! Your post inspired me to write one about our local go to snack from food stalls all over the city.

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  13. When I worked there in the late 1970s, the north shore was pretty deserted and there were no food trucks (that I remember). But you could always get mahi-mahi (with rice & macaroni salad) on the beach. I’m going to have to look for this book at the library — looks like so much fun.

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    1. I noticed a couple of FT driving out to Haleiwa. There are definitely more now than when I lived in Hawaii, and they’re offering a wider variety of things besides plate lunches.

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  14. Yum! What a fun topic for a book and for a post. I love that this connects things kids often love–trucks and food–to an experience many of them may not have had–a food truck in Hawaii. I’ve long wanted to go to Hawaii to experience its natural beauty. Now I want to go for the food.

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  15. Who’d have thunk? A book about the food trucks of Hawaii! Seems like it would be a fun souvenir of the islands. My sister just came back from two weeks there- I’m going to show her this post and ask if she sampled any of these!

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    1. Hi Jamie! It was such fun (and hunger inducing) to feature this book at Alphabet Soup. Thank you for all the good work you did for this project — never seen a friendlier, more appealing bunch of food trucks all in one place before. The manapua/malasadas spread is my favorite!🙂

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  16. When I was a child I lived in Heidelberg Germany and we used to have Pommes Frites trucks that came around and sold them in giant paper cones with curry ketchup. I still crave them! Pommes Frites (french fries)

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    1. Yum — I had pommes frites in a big paper cone when I visited Belgium so I know what you mean. I love the different toppings they had — quite a change from plain American ketchup!

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    1. Mahimahi is my favorite Hawaiian fish. I didn’t realize when I first moved to the mainland that the mahi found here is entirely different.

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  17. Such a fun book, Jama! Thanks for sharing the mouthwatering foods, too. I lived a summer on the North Shore of O’ahu when I was 18 and my brother-in-law (I was living with him and my sister) was bound and determined to get me to eat poi. I resisted, finally gave in, and hated it. Thanks for the memories. LOL! =)

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    1. My husband, who’ll eat anything (snake meat, sheep’s brains, sushi, kimchi, etc.) doesn’t like poi either. I grew up with it and like it. I’m glad you had a chance to try it, though, and cool to know you lived on O’ahu for a summer!

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    1. I do miss all my favorite Hawai’i foods. Good to hear you have some food trucks there too! They’re definitely a better prospect in warmer climes. Hawai’i has an eternal summer and of course people there eat around the clock🙂.

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