When I first came to Hawaii, one of the main things I enjoyed was the island lifestyle. It was laid-back and different than what I was accustomed to on the Mainland. Dress was informal, the cuisine was exotic and the workplace had more lenient rules.
As Mickey D's and shopping malls began to appear, islanders lamented the the erosion of Hawaii's unique lifestyle. The Aloha State, they claimed, was gradually turning into the Mainland.
This was true, but with each trip I took to the Mainland, I began to notice the opposite as well. The Mainland was adopting island ways piecemeal. Some examples that have caught my attention over the years:
*Rubber flip-flop shoes (called thongs before the bathing suit came out) were the most common footwear in Hawaii. People wore them everywhere -- the beach, school, shopping malls, church, fancy restaurants and nightclubs. When I lived on the Mainland, they weren't even used as shower shoes.
*Hawaii has a workplace tradition that dates back to territorial days -- Aloha Friday. On that day each week office workers who normally dressed conservatively donned colorful Aloha shirts and frilly muu-muu dresses. Now many Mainland businesses relax the dress code on "casual" Fridays.
*Steamed white rice is a staple food in Hawaii, served with every meal. On rare occasions my mother ate rice as breakfast cereal with sugar, cinnamon and milk -- something islanders would find disgusting. Other Mainlanders only ate rice when they went to a Chinese restaurant. Now home cooked stir-fried dishes served on a bed of rice are common "grinds" from Maine to California.
*Ramen (also called saimin here) is another staple in the islands. Aside from the general population, every college student practically lives on the stuff because it can be easily cooked in a dorm room and it's cheap (thereby leaving more money for beer, movies and rock music concerts.) No one I knew when I lived on the Mainland had ever heard of ramen, but today it is advertised on TV in most states and stocked by every supermarket chain.
*Decades ago so-called sushi bars were unknown on the Mainland because most Americans would have sooner eaten live maggots than raw fish. It's a different story now, but islanders have always eaten sashimi. (Mainlanders never got the terminology down correctly. Sashimi is the Japanese word for raw fish, sushi is flavored rice in a seaweed cone, so the restaurants should be called sashimi bars.)
*Teriyaki dishes used to be non-existent outside of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. In Hawaii people cooked every kind of meat in teriyaki sauce. On a Mainland trip I once insulted a woman from a small town in Illinois by asking if she had ever eaten teriyaki beef. When I was growing up in a small Michigan town, teriyaki would have been as alien as food from Mars.
The Mainland is more like Hawaii and vice-versa, but both places have lost some of their uniqueness in the process of becoming homogenous and uniform. A bitter joke about Honolulu is that it's beginning to look like Cleveland with palm trees.
"The earth was made round so we can't see too far down the road and know what is coming." -- Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
Last edited by starrwriter; 02-08-2006 at 09:33 AM..