A Frosty Hawaiian Treat: Shave Ice
You’ll find this tropical treat—finely shaved, not crushed ice, flavored with fruity syrups—throughout Hawaii.
We began coming to these islands over 30 years ago and, until just a few days ago, resisted tasting shave ice. Who wants to eat sugar and ice when we can eat ice cream?
On any given day we’ll see hordes of people, vacationers and locals alike, eagerly scarfing down this sweet confection. But what is all the fuss about?
We finally decided to find out for ourselves when we were gifted with a $10 charge card as part of our welcome package at a staycation.
Our destination: Uncle’s Shave Ice in Lihue, Kauai. We were the first customers that day and our server could not have been more patient with us as she answered all of our questions and suggested all sorts of possible flavors and add-ons.
After studying all the bewildering possibilities, in the end I ordered what you see me smiling about at the top of this newsletter. Three syrups drizzled atop a cone of packed shave ice.
I take my first spoonful and my taste buds are transported to somewhere they’ve never been. Because the ice is shaved and not crushed, it’s as smooth as silk and just captivating. How could anything so cold and smooth and sweet exist? Go slow, I tell myself. Take the time to savor. Dorothy agrees, and our spoons vie playfully for our next bites.
How is the ice shaved? We watch our server hoist a solid block of ice into the shaving machine, lock the ice in place, and turn the machine on. Round and round goes the ice and out flows the white mountain of shavings.
We can thank the Japanese workers who came to Hawaii to labor in the sugar cane and pineapple fields for this gift of flavored snow. To cool off, they used tools to shave off ice flakes that they flavored with sugar or fruit juice. From that humble beginning grew an industry that thrives spectacularly today.
The next time you come to Hawaii, you must try some shave ice!
Dear YouTwo, You look so Pacific native. If you decide to make a change, perhaps you may consider Western Samoa, Fiji, or even New Zealand. There's always a canoe on the horizon!
Nice to see you. Your hair is long!
Just as an aside, I ordered a multi-flavoredshave ice like the one pictured. Owen asked me what flavor it was and I said "clown hair." We still laugh about it.