Poi Traditional Hawaiian Taro Root Dish
As head of CDS Foods in Montreal, Cesare Della Santina guides a company that sources quality products, including ginger and garlic, from around the world. Cesare Della Santina’s firm also imports a number of tropical specialty products, including dragon fruit, Asian pears, and taro root. Traditional to the Polynesian islands, taro maintains an integral role in the Hawaiian diet.
One of the early Hawaiian staples, poi is created by steaming the nutritious, starchy tuber and pounding it with wooden boards and stones. This crushing process is called poi via ku’I, and the end result is a purple-colored dish that resembles bread dough and has a mildly sweet flavor. Additional flavor can be obtained through a natural fermentation process over a couple days, which adds sourness.
For many decades, taro agriculture in Hawaii was in decline, as sugar plantations replaced traditional fields and less-nutritious potatoes took taro’s place. In recent years, awareness of the importance of taro, both as a source of nutrition and as a cultural ingredient, has come to the fore, and poi is again a common sight on many Hawaiian dinner tables.
Cesare Della Santina is a respected Montreal business owner who leads the fresh produce importer CDS Foods and sources fruits and vegetable from throughout Asia, North and South America, and Europe. Cesare Della Santina has expanded his company’s range of products throughout the years to include peeled garlic, taro, Asian pears, and ya pears.
Also known as the Tientsin and Chinese white pear, the ya pear is common in China’s Hebei province and has a similar pale golden color to that of the Japanese Pear. Unlike its rounder cousin, its shape most resembles the European pear.
Ya pears have a thin skin and a crisp texture and are commonly described as tasting like a combination of apple and pear. Made up of 90 percent water, ya pears feature a light, refreshing taste and provide a healthy amount of antioxidants such as copper and vitamin C. Like most pears, ya pears ripen from the inside and thus improve in taste and texture after picking. This gives them a lengthy shelf life and makes them ideal for shoppers who purchase fruits on a weekly basis. The high water content does mean that they are best eaten raw and are not usually recommended for pies or tarts.