While your travel plans are on hold, you can pretend you’re in a new place for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.
Beyond palm trees and maytais, there’s Hawaii that many tourists never know: islands with enduring traditions of myths and tales, home to endangered species, taro fields and beaches where surfing doesn’t require a board and the smoky smell of kalua the pig swarms all night long.
Yet with a few easy-to-find items, you can experience Hawaii’s breathtaking biodiversity wherever you are, savor the flavors and music of the archipelago, make fragrant lei flowers. and virtually bring friends and family together for an island-inspired Thanksgiving around your own table.
Have liquid smoke and roasted kalua pig
“The best way to ward off Hawaii is to blow liquid smoke out of kalua a pig, put Spotify in search of Ledward Kaapana’s guitar, call on your old friends to tell a story, and keep your hands busy.” said Melanie Ide, president and CEO of the Bishop Museum, Honolulu’s museum of natural and cultural history.
But first, the pig. “There really is nothing easier or better to accompany your turkey on a Thanksgiving long weekend,” Ms. Ide said. Her ingredients: pork butt or shoulder with skin and fat, rock salt (ideally alaea salt) and liquid smoke, which she said was available in grocery stores. “Pierce meat with a fork, drizzle with liquid smoke, rub with salt, wrap in foil and roast,” she says. Use banana leaves instead of foil if possible (or put the skin of a green banana in the roasting pan) and bake at 300 degrees for several hours. Shred when finished. (If you can’t get liquid smoke, a New York Times cooking recipe uses smoked paprika.)
The Kalua pig can be enjoyed at any time of the day. For breakfast, Ms. Ide recommends the Benedictine kalua pig topped with green onions. For lunch, a pulled pork burrito. What about dinner? “Eat it straight with an extra pinch of Hawaiian salt, raw onion and poi, or fresh hot rice,” she says.
Island hop, page by page
Hawaii “appears like a damaged paradise – a place of violent and magical beauty,” wrote reviewer Michiko Kakutani of Susanna Moore’s early novels (“My Old Sweetheart”, “The Whiteness of Bones”). For a history of the archipelago where Ms. Moore grew up, consider “Pacific Paradise”.
Speaking of childhood in Hawaii, Mr. Obama’s “My Father’s Dreams: A Story of Race and Legacy” takes readers to the islands of his youth and beyond. (An essay in The Times, “Want to Be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii,” and a follow-up article, “Is Hawaii’s Racial Harmony a Myth?” Exploring Islands and Racial Identity.) “A Promised Land” Brief by Mr. Obama, was released this month.
The islands have inspired generations of writers (Mark Twain among them), although “one of the best ways to learn and think Hawaiian is to read a proverb a day” from “ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings ”Ms. Ide said. The book is also on Honolulu Magazine’s thoughtful list, “50 Essential Hawai’i Books You Should Read in Your Life.”
Become a volcanologist in a wheelchair
Hike (safely) through volcanic calderas with webcams, educational materials, and science podcasts on the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park website. Along the way, meet locals like the Hawaiian hawksbill turtle and wild nēnē (goose), and listen to the choir of dawn.
Make a flower lei
Few things can cheer you up at home better than fresh flowers and making something handmade. In Hawaii, flower lei are often given at celebrations and, as the Hawaii Tourism Authority says, “are considered status symbols when used in traditional ceremonies.” And, of course, they’re also used to greet people in Hawaii and say goodbye when they go there. To learn how to make your own, check out “Hawaiian Lei Making: A Step-by-Step Guide” by Laurie Shimizu Ide, (not related to Ms. Ide at the Bishop Museum) or try the online instructions from Maui Nō Ka ʻOi Magazine. On YouTube, Kuana Torres Kahele, musician and hula practitioner, will teach you how to make a haku lei.
Broadcast a family getaway
Transport yourself to the shores of Hawaii with wellness films. For families with young children, Walt Disney Pictures’ “Lilo and Stitch”, a Times reviewer’s choice, in which a creature from another planet lands in Hawaii, is an ode to family, or ohana, and a fun introduction to the islands, especially when paired with the National Geographic documentary series “Wild Hawaii” (both on Disney Plus). Follow a descendant of Hawaiian royalty as he tackles his land and sorrow in “The Descendants,” an Oscar winner and another Times Critic’s Pick. Or step back in time to 1918 with the famous “Picture Bride”, about a teenage girl from Japan traveling to Hawaii for an arranged marriage, directed by Honolulu-born Kayo Hatta and co-written with her sister, Mari Hatta.
The sounds of a palm forest envelop you in this meditative video from the Merwin Conservancy, which protects the Maui home and 19-acre palm forest of WS Merwin, the former USA Poet Laureate and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. You will soon forget that you are home.
How are you going to channel the spirit of Hawaii into your home? Share your ideas in the comments.
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Stephanie Rosenbloom, author of “Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude” (Viking), has written articles on travel, business and styles for The Times for almost two decades. Twitter: @Stephronyt. Instagram: @StephanieRosenbloom