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Remember Musubi?

I’m not sure many of the current generation has ever had just a plain old musubi…you know, a rice ball!  I remember many a picnic where my grandmother would make these rice balls, usually with an ume (pickled dried plum) tucked in the center and a strip of dried nori wrapped around the outside.

She would sprinkle salt on her wet hands and mold the still warm rice into a baseball size, triangular shape (that I have never been able to duplicate) and the whole thing would be wrapped in wax paper, after it had cooled.  She would scramble some eggs, fry up some spam, sometimes we’d get some dried opelu and it would all be packed up as a picnic lunch.

Sometimes, we would take a drive to Punaluu Beach Park, the black sand beach in Kau, Big Island, and just enjoy the afternoon.  I would play around in the sheltered tidal pool located makai (seaward) of the pavillion.

Or, it might be on the occasion of a trip to Kona to visit relatives.  Back then, we’re talking about the 50’s and early 60’s, much of the road between South Point to just east of  Honaunau was a very narrow road…about one-lane wide with a stripe down the middle and the drive to Kailua took  2-hours.  Today, it takes less than an hour and a half.

Along the way, there was a rest stop called, appropriately enough, the Half-Way Rest Area.  We would often stop there and share lunch with the mosquitoes.   (I think they waited for my arrival…the mosquitoes, that is.)

Anyway, the idea of putting the spam “inside” the rice, rather than eating it “with” the rice did not come along till later.  I think I would have eaten much better on fishing trips with my uncle had someone thought of that sooner.

Sometimes, my uncle and I would go fishing for the day at South Point and as we headed out to the truck, I would ask about lunch and he would run back in the house, grab a loaf of bread and a can of vienna sausage and THAT was lunch!  Doesn’t sound all that appetizing, I’ll grant you, but after spending 4-5 hours walking the rocky shores trying to get an ulua or even a papio (an “ulua” is a Jack Crevalle over 10 lbs, a “papio” is a Jack under 10 lbs), believe me, that vienna sausage sandwich tasted pretty good!

Today, my kids love spam musubi and will make it to take to work as lunch or just make to have handy for a snack when they get home.  They not only have acrylic molds to make them in, the perfect size of a slice of spam, but even spam slicer…like a heavy duty egg slicer, to evenly cut the spam.

My how things have changed!

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