Kiawe Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving and our street is lined with cars, trucks and SUVs that belong to my neighbors’ guests. At our house, all is quiet. I feel like I got away with a completely free day off! The girls have spread out some old newsprint on the dining room table and are drawing all over it. I’m assessing what I need to do for our Saturday celebration, and eventually, I’ll actually get to it. Maybe after a cup of afternoon tea, Earl Gray or Constant Comment.

To help us cope with the scents of nearby Hawaii Thanksgiving celebrations, I’ve got Italian Keilbasa for supper. Kid 1 does not like turkey. Whose kid is she? Kid 2 does, between two slices of bread with mayonnaise. I bet they ask for Grandma Lois’s recipe for macaroni and cheese. I want to make them happy.

I absolutely love the smell of kiawe seeping from neighborhood imus where turkeys, pork butts and whole pigs are buried with sweet potatoes and laulau. The whole process begins the night before, when the pit is lined with rocks and the fire is set on top. Once the fire is out and the embers have heated the rocks, the bounty is lowered into the pit, covered with ti and banana leaves, then buried to steam and roast for hours. When retrieved, the meat is fall-apart tender, juicy, delicious, smokey, grand. A glorious Hawaiian feast.

The high schools sometimes open up imus for fundraising, and the whole neighborhood brings their prepared turkeys for the massive pit. I’ll have to look into it next time. My husband was quiet when I suggested we build our own imu. Maybe I will win him over. I know just the place in our backyard.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. What a lovely snapshot at your unconventional Thanksgiving dinner 🙂 Yum, the delectable description of kiawe imus has me drooling… and I’m not a fan of turkey either!

    Sounds like you’re having a beautiful day with the family. Look forward to all your future posts on this site.


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