I first met Keryn Means in Vancouver, Canada, at a travel bloggers conference (TBEX). I ran into her at TBEX again this past June in Keystone, Colorado. In between, she'd visited Hawaii (Big) Island and discovered the very nourishing world of farmers' markets. I immediately asked her to be a guest blogger for us here. Please welcome her.
I was hungry. No, more than hungry. I was famished. We needed to get out the door and find food pronto. I didn’t care what it was. I just needed calories of some sort in my body.
Such is the life of a pregnant woman on vacation.
Normally, when we visit Hawaii, beaches are the first things we research. Not this trip. The number of dog-eared food pages in my guidebook was higher than my sunscreen SPF rating.
Our stay began in Kona, a town teaming with delicious spots to stop and grab a bite. We would experience several over the course of the week before heading over to the eastern side of the island for another week, but one in particular stood out from the crowd.
My pregnant cravings first got satisfied at Island Lava Java, a local spot serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner, with spectacular ocean views. The wait staff got to know us pretty quickly. It was my favorite breakfast spot. Waffles, eggs, omelets, fresh fruit and cinnamon rolls; what more did a girl need to grow her little bundle of joy?
I’m a great lover of all things French toast. When I saw guava bread pudding French toast on the menu one Saturday morning I swear I heard my heart (and stomach) sing. Never had my taste buds sampled something so good. No maple syrup needed; the fruit compote did the job just fine.
My son Dek, who was 2 years old at the time, tried his hardest to snag a few extra bites. Sorry kid, this was all for mommy (and your baby brother I suppose). My husband Mike didn’t even bother asking. He knew better.
Least you think breakfast was the only thing I was after; fruit was also high on my list. Throughout both my pregnancies I craved fruit more than anything else. That fresh clean taste kept my nausea at bay; left me hydrated and satisfied my sweet tooth without going over the top.
Grocery stores were OK for a quick fruit fix, but this was Hawaii. I needed something right off the tree. I needed to devour the island’s true flavors.
Thankfully there was no shortage of farmers markets on the island.
We stopped at the Kona Farmers Market every morning it was open. Prices were much better than the grocery store, and the flavors and variety could not be beat. A bunch of apple bananas, a bag of cut pineapple and a few passion fruits, which I had never had before, usually did the trick.
Papaya was in season and overwhelmed the market. More varieties than I even knew existed were on display. Strawberry papaya quickly became my favorite. I ate at least one a day.
Once we headed over to Hilo I made sure we stopped by the farmers market in town. The prices were budget friendly, which made it even harder to hold back.
Five strawberry papayas for $2! But wait, this table has 7 papayas for $1.
Corn, a whole pineapple, a bag of passion fruit (one taste and I was hooked), two types of papaya, mangos and a big bunch of apple bananas later and we were back in the car--our arms fully loaded with a toddler and produce.
Not to be outdone, a few days later we headed into Pahoa for their weekly Sunday market. This was by far my favorite on the island. It was much smaller, but we were able to pull up a chair next to a few locals. We learned all about the island’s obsession with American football, where kids played soccer, and who was selling the best mangos that morning, another favorite of mine.
I fell in love with a chicken and white bean chili served over rice. The owner of Pothead Soup, who I got to meet and chat with while I ate, made it with love and a whole lot of flavor. I had never had chili over rice. With every spoonful I wondered why not. It was 10am and I was sitting there scarfing down as much as possible and contemplating seconds.
Our travels through the Big Island brought us plenty of other palate pleasing food, but burgers, sushi and pizza aren’t unique to my taste buds. Fresh locally grown fruit, homemade chili and French toast baked with unusual ingredients are what have stuck with me months after our return.
Do I now dream about going back and eating more? Of course! I just wonder if post-pregnancy I will have the same reaction to the foods I craved. Will the papaya be as sweet, the passion fruit as tempting, and will the guava bread pudding French toast even be on the menu? I hope so.
There is only one way to find out. We will have to go back. There are certainly worse problems in life.
Mom and active blogger, Keryn Means left the publishing world in 2011 to take care of her growing family and follow her passion for travel. A native of Philadelphia, she spends her days exploring her new home in Seattle with her toddler and infant sons. When her kids are asleep you can find her editing photos and writing away on Walkingon Travels. Keryn follows the mantra that just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to put your travel dreams aside, if anything they just get bigger and more exciting. The family’s next Hawaii adventure will take them to Kauai early in the New Year. You can also follow the family’s adventures on Facebook and Twitter.