From Pupu to Pupusa…

November 13, 2008
This has been in the queue since the end of September… Getting back into the swing of preparing posts has been a challenge, but things are finally falling in place. Many thanks to everyone for your support and concern. One more belated post to come before we get up-to-date… Thanks for your patience…

– Manju
“Cook food, but serve Love”


“Aloha Kakou” from the beautiful, if muggy, Washington DC metro area! While no one guessed the actual place we are moving to, Laurie from Alaska guessed the closest city (she guessed Baltimore) and was named the winner of the “Three Tastes of Hawaii”package.

Yes, we’ve finally landed and are still in the midst of finding a place to live, but we managed to sneak away for one day of sightseeing at the National Mall and the monuments, including the Washington Monument (seen here). It’s been a long series of hotels and other temporary housing since mid-August, and that has been tiring, to say the least. The upside, of course, is we’ve been planted in the midst of another landscape with wholly new (for us) culture and cuisines.

But Washington DC is no ordinary metropolitan area — as the U.S. capital, it’s the epicenter of transglobal palates and preferences, and we’ve seen a little of that already.

Here in the northern DC metro area we’ve been introduced to “Pupusa” (seen at left, bottom of photo) — a flat cornmeal pocket filled with cheese, beans, meat or any combination of the three, that is a popular snack or side dish introduced by the large and thriving Salvodorean community here. “Pupu,” of course, is the word in Hawaiian for appetizers or hors d’oeuvres, and we had our fair share of poke, sashimi, musubi, grilled sausage & pineapple, and other island-style pupu during our time on Oahu.

But we’re not completely done with exploring Hawaii and her cuisine just because we’re away — already we’ve discovered Hawaiian-made Okinawan soba noodles, Hawaii shave ice, and Maui Tacos right here in this far, far corner away from the Islands. And because our notice to leave Oahu came rather abruptly, we still have a backlog of recipes using Hawaii local produce and ingredients yet to post. We also learned that the first U.S. franchise for that venerable piri-piri chicken empire, Nando’s Chicken, has recently opened in downtown DC &mdash (but they spell it per-peri); is it as good as the one we remember from London’s Earl’s Court? How does our homemade Piri-piri Chicken recipe stack up against its famous cousin? And how do they both fare against Peruvian rotisserie chicken? And speaking of more things from south of the border, there are no less than four types of South American soured cream in the grocery shelves around here — Salvadorean, Honduran, Mexican and Guatemalan — what’s the difference and how do you use them? Can’t wait to find out!

We’ve also seen that it will be much easier to refresh our pantry with Persian, South Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredients from local and specialty grocers in the area: sumac, Spanish and kalamata olives, sheep’s milk cheeses, fresh methi leaves, apricot leather, pomegranate molasses, fufu… We’ve also found a half dozen full-size or larger Korean supermarkets that are well-stocked with South American and South Asian ingredients, as well as Korean, Filipino and Japanese ingredients. What we can’t seem to find is a well-stocked Japanese market — I’m hoping for something akin to Uwajimaya in the Pacific Northwest.

As for our travel buddies, Haiku and Kiowea weathered their flight from Hawaii to DC (via Houston) well. For Haiku, it was old hat — in fact, she has now completely circumnavigated the globe! She and Laika lived with us in Boston, then flew across the Atlantic to Germany, then across Asia to Hawaii, and now Haiku has flown across the U.S. back to the East Coast! But for 3-year-old Kio, who was adopted in Hawaii, plane travel was quite a new experience! He seemed to have taken his cues from Haiku, though, and since she reacted calmly at the cargo center, he didn’t panic when we dropped them off. Nor does he appear traumatized since we re-joined them here (they flew 1 week before we did). In a later post, we’ll talk about what steps we took to prepare them for their trip — both with homeopathic treatments and behavior training (yes, you can train a cat! … in some things …) We also have some tips for folks travelling to or from Hawaii with pets (we’ve done both) — where you can stay with your pets, what airline will guarantee travel dates for your pets, etc.

So many thanks to everyone who has checked in with us and let us know we’re missed. I hope you bear with us through this hiatus, we’ll be back soon…