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‘Ohana > I Remember WhenSummer 2004 IS Magazine7/7/04 IS Online

Fresh Akule, Old Packard, Chinatown

'Ono Akule

As I have gotten older, I have come to the realization that it's the simple things in life that we fondly remember.

The summer days spent at my grandparents' house in the waning plantation days on Kaua'i included many sights, sounds, smells and tastes. What stands out most was the arrival of the akule truck. Fishermen would drive around the plantation camp honking their horn twice -- always twice -- and yelling, "akule!" Women, my grandma included, would race out of their homes with a large bowl and rush to the truck.

We could hear the horn and the bellowing voice many houses away. Over the smell of fish and the sound of the fisherman's voice, the ladies would try to bargain for the best price. People who lived in the plantation knew that this was "good eating." After Grandpa gutted and cleaned the fish in the outside sink, Grandma would take over.

Later, as the sun began to set, you could smell cooking fish from all the houses. The Filipino family across the road would use bagoong in their fish dish, while the Hawaiian family cooked their fish outside pulehu-style. At my grandparents' house, the fish would be frying and accompanied by miso soup with 'opihi, homemade koko and hot rice. We hoped that Mom would pick us up late. Nothing ever tasted so 'ono.

Now I know it wasn't so much the akule that made these times special, but that I was sharing it with my grandparents, who bought it and lovingly prepared it. It represented life in this small plantation camp, its people and the feeling of community. The camp and my grandparents are gone, but the memories are still strong.

Today, when I see akule in the store, I never buy it. It's not the same. I won't hear the akule man's voice or have my grandpa clean it and my grandma cook it for us. I'd rather remember how it was then, because it won't ever taste that good again.

Danelle Bernabe
Hilo, Big Island

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