Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kava Festival

Today I went up to the University of Hawaii for the now what appears to be annual Kava Festival. It was held on The Mall on the upper east side of campus running from the campus center circle down to Bilger hall. A number of booths were set up for kava products, food and other items relating to the festival while atendees were entertained with live music.

What is Kava? It's the root of the Piper methysticum plant. At least is should be just the root. There have been issues with kava pills that have been made that include other parts of the plant. The roots are peeled and ground up after being dried. The resulting powder is stored. To make the drink a fine cloth bag is used to contain the powder and water is run over it. The powder turns into a paste at this point. The preparer kneeds the bag while the water passing through is gathered in a container below. The resulting cloudy liquid is then drunk.

I've had kava in the past and wasn't interested in drinking any while I was there but most people were partaking in what was available. Different booths were set up where people could buy drinks. It was fun to see the different containers used to create the drinks. There were some plastic pails and pots but most were a specialy carved wooden bowl. Once scooped from the bowls people were drinking from regular paper cups, glasses and even cups made from coconuts. I saw one guy who's eyes were very red. I hope he wasn't driving.

In addition to the drinks available you could purchase the powder itself. I talked to one vendor who had some bags marked Fiji kava and Vanuatu kava. I asked what the difference is between them. She stated that based on where the plants are grown, on a hillside vs in a valley, it affects the potency. She recommended the Vanuatu powder.

One booth that I really liked had local fresh fruits. There was sugar cane sticks, pineapple, coconuts, coconut juice, mango, papaya, dragon fruit, star fruit and guava available. I bought a small container that contained a mixture of pineapple, mango, dragon fruit and coconut. It couldn't have been any fresher as it was prepared right there. It was wonderfully refreshing!

Another booth was preparing Portuguese bean soup. They had a big pot over a burner. The cook was taking premade bags of the various ingredients like onions and Portuguese sausage and dumped it into the pot. The smell was intoxicating.

I tweeted about one moment that happened. One of the entertainers was there on the steps on Snyder Hall singing while playing the guitar. She was singing about the bad white man. I often hear that position taken. People are entitled to their opinion.

It was interesting to attended. The festival's web site is
Click Here to check out some pictures that I took around UH and the festival.