Hello Friends and Family,

1985 - The Big Island, Part 2

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Continuing our visit to the Big Island, my parents and I journeyed up to Volcano National Park, only to learn that a volcano is not just a big hole in the Earth where molten lava spews out. It is that and much more. This pile of rocks covers a lava tube that has a source of water at the bottom which is transformed into steam rising to the surface, sneaking between the rocks to surprise my Mom in the background.

In a similar manner, this pile of rocks is spewing sulfur fumes — I assure you they smell awful, like rotten eggs.

If you look closely at the sulfur vent, you will notice that crystals of sulfur cling to the rocks — and I didn't even know that sulfur could crystalize. Be sure to hold your nose as you approach the vent.

Here we see a lava flow from some years previous. Although it looks like it occurred recently, it may have been many years earlier — it takes a long time before plants can gain a foothold and begin breaking up the lava rock into gravel and then eventually into soil.

Later in the day, while my parents were napping, I visited the King Kamehameha Hotel's imu, the underground oven that native Hawaiians used to cook a pig and assorted accompanying vegetables such as taro. This one is used for the luau that the hotel hosts several nights each week.

Earlier in the day, these workers built a large fire and allowed it to burn to heat the rocks that line the imu. Here the worker has added some dried leaves — for what purpose, I do not know.

Next, a layer of large green leaves is added to separate the hottest part of the emu from the pig that is about to be added.

And here is that pig, wrapped in a wire cage whose purpose is to keep the meat contained. After it has been slow-cooked for hours, the pork will be so tender that it would otherwise fall back into the imu as the workers tried to remove the pig to serve to the luau guests.

Next comes more leaves, partially to help steam cook but also to keep dirt off the pig.

And even more large leaves!

On top of everything, a heavy cloth is added primarily to keep the dirt off the meat.

Then the dirt is thrown on top which seals the oven — like closing the oven door on the range you have in your kitchen. After several hours, the workers will be back to remove the dirt and retrieve the wonderfully cooked pig. Most luaus invite the guests to come closer to watch the opening of the imu and the removal of the cooked pig.

I highly recommend attending a luau if you have never been. Lots of great food and island dancing. Many of the hotels have them. On Maui, my favorite is The Old Lahaina Luau — a family-run business. I have to advise you that it is expensive (all the luaus are) but a worthwhile expense once in a lifetime.

If you can't wait until you get to Hawai’i, you can have your own luau. I have the Vincent Price Cookbook, First Edition which contains the steps you need. There are also directions online. First, dig a hole big enough to hold a pig, and so on.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com