My husband and I enjoyed eating breadfruit when we lived on a remote islet in the Marshall Islands from 1970-1972 as Peace Corps volunteers. Fried or cooked in coconut milk it was a delicious alternative to white rice in a place where there were no potatoes or corn. We can’t grow it at our elevation in Hamakua so breadfruit is a treat for us.
When I heard there was going to be a breadfruit festival in Kona featuring all kinds of dishes made with breadfruit I just had to make the drive from Waimea to the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook. What a surprise it was to see a traffic jam and a stream of people entering the gardens. Who would think the humble breadfruit would draw such a crowd!
At the festival, there were demonstrations by Pacific islanders of traditional ways of preparing breadfruit, technical presentations on growing breadfruit, booths featuring various organizations promoting breadfruit for food sustainability and forestry (such as the Breadfruit Institute and Kamehameha Schools) an exhibit of artwork featuring breadfruit, a cooking competition, chefs’ demonstrations and a buffet featuring various dishes made from breadfruit.
While waiting in the long line in the shade of a giant kukui tree I had the opportunity to meet people from other parts of the Big Island and to renew old acquaintances. And what a treat it was to eat ‘ulu cooked in so many different ways. The festival was a great success with well over 1,200 people in attendance. We can look forward to seeing more of these beautiful trees in the landscape and more ulu in our Big Island farmers markets!