I tease my husband Keoni that I married him for his cooking. Joke, of course…
When the two of us ran a restaurant together (Kana Girl’s Hawai’ian BBQ) even men used to tell me that if I ever stepped aside, they wanted to marry him. Joking, of course…
The man is a freaking magician in the kitchen. Or should I say kahuna?
It’s customary in Hawai’ian culture for a grandparent to select one grandchild as the recipient of specialized family knowledge; Keoni’s tutu pa (grandfather) Kamuela, a musician and ho’omo’a (cook), apprenticed him at a young age and taught him to blend the things he was passionate about: cooking and song. Our regular restaurant patrons used to ask after him specifically if they couldn’t detect his rich tenor wafting from the kitchen along with the Island aromas–“Is Keoni OK today?” When he’s singing in the kitchen, I know that all’s well in our world.
I’m still embarrassed that I “cooked” (in my case, I use the term loosely) for him in the very early days of our friendship, before I realized his near-spiritual relationship with kitchens. Fortunately for all involved, he gently (and joyfully) took the misused spatula from my hands and began wielding it himself. It wasn’t a month later that my daughter Elena Grace (then age 4, and blissfully enraptured by her breakfast) told me emphatically, “Mommy, we need to KEEP him.”
When our Boise house went into foreclosure this summer, we scraped together enough rent to relocate to a double-wide trailer in the country (ha, we’re now officially “trailer trash”–and we love living here). And once we realized we wouldn’t be able to sell the house, we decided we’d take as much of the kitchen with us as we could–the stainless-steel appliances and custom wooden cabinets and polished granite countertops–so we’ve been systematically “remodeling” our rental with our hauled-along pieces. This weekend Keoni has been putting the finishing touches on what he refers to as his “manscaping” of the kitchen, which (if I may venture to say so) now looks pretty damn good. (I was going to say “for a trailer,” but it actually looks pretty damn good, period.)
As for me, I can find precisely three items in our kitchen: the coffee pot, the coffee mugs, and the coffee creamer. Keoni prefers it that way, and (having just been spoiled, yet again, with breakfast-in-bed), I confess myself content as well. To the ladies (and gentlemen) who spoke up for spots on his marriage-waiting-list, I’ll have to disappoint you. Mommy is KEEPING him!