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Poi to the World

Kakoo Oiwi mills different varieties of taro for pickup at the farm or delivery


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Almost a hundred varieties of taro were once cultivated in Hawaii. To find out more about the different types, visit kupunakalo.com, an online encyclopedia of taro in Hawaii.

photo: sean marrs

Most bagged commercial poi tastes pretty much the same, from restaurants to luau, from one supermarket to another. Kakoo Oiwi, one of the organizations dedicated to restoring the Heeia ahupuaa, shows that—as much of the world is discovering with banana varieties and heirloom tomatoes and almost everything else under the sun—kalo, too, has its nuances.

While commercial poi is usually made with the kalo variety Maui lehua, Kakoo Oiwi, currently plants five types, and, in its weekly blends of fresh-milled poi, tries to “get people to understand how those different varieties have different tastes,” says Jan Yoshioka from Kakoo Oiwi.

When the non-profit first started its weekly poi delivery in January, it debuted a blend of lehua maoli (for a reddish, thinner poi) and moi (a white kalo variety with a high stickiness factor). More recently, it’s been offering a thick, faintly bluish poi made with kai uliuli. Yoshioka’s favorite? Piialii, which makes for a red, sweet poi and an almost mochi-like paiai (poi before it’s been mixed with water).

Kakoo Oiwi, offers both poi ($5 per pound) and paiai ($5 per half pound), available for pickup at the farm or delivered downtown on Fridays. Sign up for its newsletter for details and instructions for each week at kakoooiwi.org.

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