Poi was the staple food of Native Hawaiians and the process of getting it from field to smooth creamy purple poi are quite complex. Firstly the corm or plant stem needs to be cooked, either by steaming or baking. Once that is done then it’s time to make poi. This can be a time consuming task in which the cooked root is either pounded on a large flat wooden board called a papa ku’i’ai, using heavy stones called pohaku ku’i’ai or blended in a food processor, with water added to make either one, two or three finger poi. The fingers being how many you need to eat it, depending on its thickness.
Here on Kauai we are blessed to be surrounded not just by these stunning fields, but also by having the knowledge of others who are willing to share these gifts with us. If you’d like to learn traditional Ku’i’ai Poi Pounding then you’re in luck as the Kauai Historical Society are holding a Poi Pounding Workshop on Tuesday, June 27th from 4-5 pm at Kauai Community College.
You will be able to take a tour of the college’s lo’i, poi field and learn how to use a pohaku ku’i’ai, or poi pounder from Joshua Fusion who has taught people, keiki to kupuna, how to practice ku’i’ai, or traditional kalo pounding with board and stone, and who appreciated with Jerry Konanui, a cultural practitioner, specializing in Hawaiian kalo varieties.
The course costs $12 and children under 12 are free. If you are a member of Kauai Historical Society then it will only cost you $5. Learn more at www.kauaihistoricalsociety.org