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James Sogi

Luau Update, by Jim Sogi

Today we went up the mountain to the rain forest on top of my friend's land to gather ti leaves. Up in the rain forest we saw remains of ancient Hawaiian homesteads, and burial mounds and 800-year-old trees. He told us that only a few species remained that existed when the Hawaiians lived there.

Hiking up a mountain path, we gather a pickup truck full of ti leaves and ginger. The ti plant is a bunch of leaves about 18" long by 6" wide used for hula skirts, leis, decoration, mats for eating, and to wrap the pig, turkey and ulu and pumpkin in the imu. It looks like a Dr Seuss plant.

The leaves are cleaned and woven into mats, into skirts and braided into leis.

The imu is an oven dug into the ground about one foot deep by eight feet across. We line the bottom with smooth river rocks. We will burn a 1/4 cord of kaiawe (mesquite) wood on top of the rocks beginning at 6 am. At 8 the pig, turkeys, breadfruit, pumpkins, yams are wrapped in ti leaves, then wrapped in banana leaves and buried on top of the hot rocks. The banana leaves heat up and create a fragrant steam that cooks the contents. They steam for six hours and are lifted out on a wire grate and unwrapped. The meat is tender and falls off the bones. The ti leaves impart a delicate aroma to the food.

Later today we will slaughter the pig and burn off the hair. We trapped the pig in our front yard over a year ago and a neighbor has been fattening him up. Mr Turkey is for our friends who do not eat pig. A funny thing is that we have flock of turkeys that live in our front yard and they like to sit in the imu and take dust baths, so I joke that they are just dying to come for dinner.


James Sogi is a philosopher, Juris Doctor, surfer, trader, investor, musician, black belt, sailor, semi-centenarian. He lives on the mountain in Kona, Hawaii, with his family