Sidelines and Sessions

2009/06/29

The Loco Moco: History Fishing

Filed under: History Fishing — spsukaton @ 10:01 am

I know I’m two days late, but it’s n0t like any of you were paying attention anyway. Hawai’i is distracting. Sorry.

I had Hawaiian food tonight – specifically, the loco moco. It’s actually kind of delicious, and I figured I should probably write about it.

The loco moco is native to Hawai’i, and reflects (as do many other foods in the islands) the multicultural overlay present. It is, in its simplest form, white rice, a hamburger patty, and a fried egg, stacked on top of each other and doused in brown gravy. It’s so simple, most high school or college students could make it at home – it’s taste, low cost, and easy preparability make it a popular dish in the rice-friendly Hawaiian Islands.

The dish itself, created in 1949, has a distinctly Hawaiian history. Richard and Nancy Inouye opened the Lincoln Grill Restaurant in Hilo, on the Big Island. Lincoln Grill was across the street from Lincoln Park, which was also home to a group of teens, the Lincoln Wreckers Athletic Club, who played football (barefoot, according to my source!) in the area. Teenagers (including the Wreckers) chilled at the restaurant, usually eating hamburgers or saimin (Japanese noodle soup.)  The Wreckers wanted something both filling and affordable, and thought up a dish with rice, gravy and hamburger. The Wreckers asked one of their own, a young man nicknamed “Crazy” to ask for it. Crazy in pidgin and Spanish is loco, and “moco” just happens to rhyme. The name was hot, the food was a hit, and the rest is history.  It became wildly popular and is now available just about everywhere in the islands.

(There are plenty of such stories, but the ones I found focus explicitly on Hilo, so I’m pretty sure loco’s from Island of Hawai’i. Let me know if you hear anything different.)

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Loco Moco (and the 50th of Hawaiian statehood) I had mine with macaroni salad and a medium water. I love egg yolk – so mixing it in with the gravy, salad, and hamburger was bomb. All my friends that got Japanese curry next door were hella jealous. I just wish I had taken a picture.

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