POI: An ancient superfood pounded to perfection

Poi is a nutritious Hawaiian superfood made from the corn of the taro plant. Traditionally, Hawaiians viewed poi as a life-giving and sacred food. A popular feature of Hawaiian luaus, poi was their staple starch, used to accompany a lomi-lomi salmon or pork dish. The potato-like taro, or kalo in Hawaiian, is first cooked then peeled before being hand-pounded on a wooden board into a greyish-purple substance called paiai. When water is added and the paiai is kneaded, it expands to become a thick paste called poi. Pounding kalo, or ku’i ‘ai, as it is known in Hawaiian, is an art that dates back to the ancient Polynesians. However, in 1911, the Board of Health banned poi sales, believing unsanitary handling of poi in factories and shops to have caused a cholera outbreak. It was not until 100 years later that a bill was passed to exempt paiai from this regulation and allow its public distribution. Poi is high in fibre, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins and minerals. It is considered one of the most digestible foods in the world and has been proven to alleviate a variety of medical conditions. Due to the hypoallergenic properties of this slow-release energy food, it is also considered an excellent substitute for dairy, soy or wheat.
Apr 2, 2015
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