James went to Oahu for a conference a few weeks ago and visited the Made in Hawaii Festival at the Blaisdell Center. He told me he would bring me back a special treat, and I spent the day anticipating kettle corn popcorn or special chocolate from the Big Island.
Nope. He brought me back a jar of pickled seaweed, commonly known as limu or ogo.
He was shocked when I was disappointed. I have a sweet tooth; James has a salt tooth. He’s also German. So anything pickled is going to win him over immediately. For me, there’s just no substituting for chocolate. And his build up of a really big treat started a fantasy in my head that just did not involve pickled onions and seaweed.
“Do you know how hard it was to get this through TSA?” he complained.
The security agents had questioned it on his flight back, because the jar is undeniably filled with something related to liquid. James argued that it was more like a sludge or gel, due to the slimy nature of the seaweed, and the magical things that happen to it as it soaks in vinegar, shoyu (soy sauce), onions, ginger, chils, sea salt and sugar. The agents smiled and shook their head at the big, fast-talking white guy trying to convince them to let him through with his prize.
Finally, he offered to let them try it. He opened it up and they took a sniff, and everyone agreed it smelled delicious. He told them he was bringing it home as a present for me, and then asked how they would feel if they weren’t able to bring something so delicious back to their wife on another island. The agents relented, smiled and waved him through.
I’m not so heartless that I can’t appreciate a good story — and food is certainly a passion we share with each other. I forgave. I ate.
I got over my disappointment. This salty, spicy, elixir lets you dive right into the sea and swim around in it. It fills your mouth, hits all of your taste centers at once, and rises a little into your sinuses. It’s amazing with a piece of grilled ono, or as a side to just about anything. I’ve been scooping it out of the jar like I do peanut butter.
James is away this weekend, again, and it’s our fifth wedding anniversary, so I’ve been a bit sad. The doorbell rang, and lo, I received two dozen roses from my sweetheart!
I trimmed and watered the arrangement, and then retrieved our bottle of pickled ogo for a little snack a la James. Happy anniversary, sweetheart. And thanks for the presents.