You'd never guess that something that tastes so nasty the first time you try it could become such an addictive snack. But in the latest chapter in our pursuit of unusual foods here in Hawaii, that's exactly what happened.
We saw a bag of Li Hing Mui, or salty dried plums, hanging on a rack in one of the gazillion ABC convenience stores here in Waikiki. Why not? we thought, and bought it.
The next thing I know, Laura is sprinting around the apartment yelling, "What an awful, awful food!" It was only later, after a brief but enlightening conversation with our local friend Tammy, that she found out her mistake:
Laura: Have you ever tried, uh, Li Hing... something? My god they are disgusting. I popped one in my mouth and I couldn't believe how awful it was.
Tammy: You're supposed to nibble it.
I'll give Laura credit, she is a tryer. The next day and for the next couple of days after that, she tried nibbling these little salty-sweet-sour buggers. Instead of eating them whole.
Wouldn't you know it, she's now totally addicted to them. And I kind of like 'em too. They are tangy, they have the perfect mix of salty sweetness, and they're covered in an electric red powder, called, not surprisingly, li hing powder.
But unlike more typical American snacks like potato chips or candy, one bite does not taste like another. In fact, it can take five or ten minutes to work your way through one of these dried plums. At that rate, our tiny three-ounce bag is going to last us until we get back to the mainland.
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