Cookbook Profile

Remembering Diamond Head, Remembering Hawai'i
A Cookbook Memoir of Hawaii and Its Foods

by Shirley Tong Parola and Lisa Parola Gaynier

Remembering Diamond Head 
The road from Hawai'i to Michigan is certainly not a well-traveled one, but anyone who arrived at the Diamond Head Cafe in Ann Arbor during the 1990s may have thought he had never left the sun-dappled islands. For there, at the end of the journey, even the most homesick of Islanders found comfort, solace, and the most delicious Hawaiian fare in the dining room of the Diamond Head Cafe. Now, the former owners of the Cafe, mother and daughter Shirley Tong Parola and Lisa Parola Gaynier treat the reader to this often neglected cuisine in their vibrant book, Remembering Diamond Head, Remembering Hawai'i: A Cookbook Memoir of Hawai'i and Its Foods (Diamond Hawaii Press). Not only do they answer the often-asked question, "What is Hawaiian food?" they satisfy the reader's curiosity and palate with more than 250 sizzling recipes—with a complete luau menu in the bargain. Along the way, the authors also share their cooking insights, their broad knowledge of Hawaiian history and language, and a hearty helping of humorous and touching anecdotes.

From breakfast to dessert, the Hawaiian table is as provocative as it is varied. Remembering Diamond Head, Remembering Hawai'i follows the history of Hawaiian food from its traditional Polynesian roots to the fusion of multicultural cuisines that comprise present-day Island cooking. The authors assert that the food of Hawai'i is not so much a melting pot as it is a "tossed salad" or a "savory stew," where each ingredient contributes to the whole, yet distinctly maintains its identity. Throughout the years of cooking at the Pacific Rim-inspired cafe in Ann Arbor, Lisa and Shirley maintained a devotion to traditional fare while developing new dishes based on the familiar ones. The result was a unique blend of old and new that inspired diners at the Diamond Head Cafe for nearly a decade, and it will now afford food lovers everywhere the opportunities to create and feast on their remarkable cuisine.

The culinary odyssey of the Parola family commenced when two graduate students—with four kids—left their beloved Hawai'i to pursue school and career on the mainland. Their first "restaurant," the Melting Pot, was a small makeshift counter with a hibachi just outside of Bloomington, Indiana. Four decades, and thousands of satisfied palates later, the mother and daughter team has perfected a bounty of superlative recipes. The profusion of exotic flavors resonate in such dishes as Pork and Mango Shish Kebobs, Curry Pineapple Rice, and Coriander Shrimp. and what would a Hawaiian celebration be without a luau? Such a feast would include Lomi Lomi Salmon, Luau Chicken, Poi, and a centerpiece of Kalua Pig. Along with an assortment of Hawaiian versions of ethnic favorites like Vegetable Lo Mein, Sashimi Roll-Ups, and even Hawaiian-Style Chili, the Islanders have a penchant for such breakfast dishes and desserts as Coconut Crêpes, Macadamia Nut Cream Pie, and Tropical Fruit Smoothies. In a word, ONO! (Translation: Delicious!)

With its emphasis on fresh foods and vegetables, this is also a heart-healthy cuisine. But this unique book is about more than great food. Five years in the making, it is brimming with sidebars on every page as well as instructions for everything from locating and selecting ingredients to preparing and preserving them, and a full glossary of terms. The authors also delight the reader with such information as: Hawai'i is home to the only royal palace in The United States; until just recently, the Aloha Tower, only 10 stories high, was the tallest building in Hawai'i; and, remarkable as it may seem, Hawaiians eat more SPAM luncheon meat than anyone else in the country.

Through Shirley and Lisa's honest, open, and interesting commentaries, one can actually learn about the history, culture, and uses of the many flavorful dishes of the islands. Plus, the book does a great job explaining what certain food terms mean such as "saimin," "poke," "mochiko," or "aburage." Remembering Diamond Head, Remembering Hawai'i also paints a colorful family memoir rich in restaurant anecdotes to celebrate the Hawaiian-American experience.

Shirley is a retired teacher of English, Speech, and Drama. She has taught in Hawai'i, Michigan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. As the youngest of seven children, she was fortunate that her mother cooked wonderful Chinese dishes while her former Hawaiian cowboy father made great pumpkin pies and beef stew. She now resides in Honolulu with her husband, Gene.

Lisa Parola Gaynier is the product of a multicultural household—Chinese-Hawaiian on her mother's side and French-Italian on her father's. She developed the restaurant concept and recipes for the Diamond Head Cafe, in Kerrytown, Ann Arbor, an old-world style mall. She ran Diamond Head Cafe for seven years before retiring in 1993.


Buy the Book!


Remembering Diamond Head, Remembering Hawai'i
A Cookbook Memoir of Hawai'i and Its Foods
by Shirley Tong Parola and Lisa Parola Gaynier
Diamond Hawaii Press
Published 1999, $19.95/trade paperback
Illustrations by Jill M. Ault
ISBN: 0-9666457-0-7
Information provided by the publisher.


Remembering Diamond Head, Remembering Hawai'i



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This page created March 2002