Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spam, Eggs, and Rice

Hawaiian culture is like Spam, eggs, and rice.

The American culture present in Hawaii would be the eggs. It is, after all, the 50th state. What makes it American? Well, besides the fact that English is spoken and the dollar is accepted, it still feels like the mainland. You have burger joints, pizzerias, and taco trucks all on the same block. People across all races and cultures mix together creating a melting pot.

Want some pizza with that ramen?

Unlike the mainland, though, there is a stronger Asian influence that is apparent in everyday life. Most noticeable is Japanese culture. Since Hawaii caters to Japanese tourists, many stores and restaurants will have signs in Japanese. Some malls and stores won't even bother English at all. Moreover, Japanese is commonly heard on the street, particularly in more touristy areas. 

However, you can't say it's only the flocks of Japanese tourists that make Hawaii seem like Japan. For example, for you Hawaiians out there, how do you say 'yakiniku' in English? This influence of Japanese culture is not limited to the language either. Hawaii may be lacking the ever present コンビニ, but at least in Waikiki, how far do you have to walk to find an ABC store? (Answer: 1 block) They sell everything from beach gear to gifts to booze to... spam musubi? It's like a Hawaiian Famima

So in our breakfast analogy, this part of Hawaiian culture is the rice.

"Wait, Hawaii isn't it's own country?" -Common Japanese Misconception

Yet even with these two cultures, Oahu has managed to maintain its own, well, Hawaiian-ness. The Spam, so to speak. Locals use the 'hang loose' sign to mean chill out. When you don't hear English or Japanese, you'll hear 'Pigeon,' a pidgin English and Hawaiian mix. And even if you don't understand a word of it, you pick up aloha and mohalo pretty quick--from the moment you step off the plane, you hear them used constantly.

Put them all together and we create the perfect breakfast that is uniquely Hawaii.

Spam, eggs, and rice--even at McDonalds

The result is a destination that may be touristy, but it's touristy for a reason. Its amazing weather, friendly locals, and scenic beauty notwithstanding, Hawaii's blend of mainland, Asian, and Pacific Island influences provides a cultural experience that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

So to Hawaii, I say Aloha for now, maholo for a great trip, and a hui hou!

1 comment:

  1. Spam, eggs and rice= very typical Filipino breakfast :D