Whenever I visit my family in Hawaii, I try to eat mostly foods that I can only find in Hawaii - malasadas, fresh fish, plate lunch and truly ripe pineapples. Of course, that doesn't restrict one to poi and pulled pork from the imu these days - all the other cultures that have flavored Hawaii have brought their own favorites with them.
Like this one. Spam™ musubi (pronounced moo-soo-bee with the accent on the bee). The sticky rice, the nori (seaweed wrapper) and the name are all obviously Japanese in origin, but the Spam™ is pure "coast haole" food, transplanted to Hawaii from some Mainland factory. I suppose Spam™ became popular in the Islands because the can keeps it fresh on the long ocean voyage, because it keeps in the pantry virtually forever - and because it is simply delicious. Call it a guilty pleasure if you will, but when I'm in Hawaii, I am actively on the hunt for Spam™musubi.
You can get "Hawaiian food" on the Mainland but it's never the same. The fish is never as fresh, the rice is never as sticky, the pineapple is never as sweet. There is something about eating in the open air with a soft, warm breeze teasing your hair and a flower tucked behind one ear that makes the whole meal special.
We found this hearty musubi, made from a slab of Spam™ cut the long way from the loaf, up by the volcano where we stopped for a lunch. Cousin Jan, who graced us with her company on this trip, was initially skeptical about taking a bite, but we cajoled and urged until she caved and tried it. "Not horrible," was her comment; I'm convinced that with repetition she will grow to love it. Everyone does, sooner or later.
Spam@musubi is like Hawaii - seductive.