How to Eat Poi

Poi is made out of taro. In traditional Hawaiian language, Taro is called Kalo. I feel like it’s fermented taro because it’s really bitter. I hate poi. I cannot eat it without sugar or honey…But anyway, to eat poi, you have to use two fingers and swirl your two fingers twice in the bowl. Using one finger and doing one swirl is disrespectful. Using three fingers and three swirls is seen as greedy.”

Context/Analysis: The informant is Hawaiian, and has eaten poi many times at Luaus. When she was younger, the informant learned of the traditional way to eat poi from her mother at her first Luau. It is significant to her because it is a custom native to her home. Though she does not like Poi, she would still follow the rules on “how to eat poi” out of respect.

This custom is practiced when sharing Poi at a Luau. Food at Luaus is eaten with the hands and shared communally. Because the “right amount” of poi must be enough to not be rude but also not too much to appear greedy, this custom suggests how Luaus are celebrations to share and be generous with friends and family.