Mark “Gooch” Noguchi – a Hawaiian chef born in the Manoa Valley in Honolulu and owner of the Pili Group – commented in an article written for Firstwefeast that he and many of his fellow Hawaiians were not pleased when they discovered that their beloved Poke had become the core of several fast-food chains in the United States.
We are not going to reproduce the actual word that Gooch used in the article to show his irritation because it is irrelevant, but for you to have an idea it was something along these lines: # $ @ &% *!
Why aren’t they happy about all the attention that Poke and the Hawaiian gastronomic tradition is getting around the world?
Yes, they are but according to Gooch, “his whole life he has witnessed the commodification of the Hawaiian culture […] We are a society closely linked to the sea and the products it gives us. If you are not spiritually connected to our culture, you will not know who we are regardless of how many posts on Instagram or Snapchat try to teach it to you all about it. “
Cultural appropriation: that’s what Gooch is talking about.
And we, at Hula Poke, are very aware of it.
We know how difficult it is to properly represent such a deeply-rooted tradition without falling into stereotypes.
We know how difficult it is to serve the food of a country without trivializing its culture, its traditions and even its people.
We know that gastronomic fashions come and go without understanding the tradition and the culture they represent.
And, precisely because of that, we try to cook and serve Hawaiian cuisine from a very special place: from a place of great Respect.