Pull Up A Chair Next to A Local

Homemade chili was just one of the treats awaiting us at the Pahoa Farmers Market

Sometimes my stomach can lead to a new adventure. We headed out yesterday morning to the Pahoa Farmers Market (open 6am-3pm every Sunday.) The bowl of cereal I’d had for breakfast just wasn’t cutting it. Nothing in the house looked good. Farmers markets usually had a few food carts. There had to be something good that could satisfy my pregnant belly at 10:30 in the morning.

Dek was in full agreement. He didn’t want to go to the water (shocking!) but did repeat farmers market after I asked him if he wanted to go. Who am I to argue with such a persuasive argument from a 2 year old.

Some of the most unusual and stunning orchids I have ever seen

Upon arrival we saw the usual fruit and souvenir vendors along with one or two hot food stands. This market was much more spread out than the Hilo market we had visited earlier in the week. It also appeared to be a watering hole of sorts for the locals. Patrons chit chatted with vendors while loading up their shopping bags with this week’s veggie needs.

One group of tables caught my eye. There were crepes (always an eye catcher), local honey, pie and soup. I wandered on over while Mike herded Dek through another rock exploration in the parking lot. Eggnog and pumpkin crepes were on the menu. I couldn’t resist. For only a dollar what was the harm? The eggnog was a little strange, basically a rolled up crepe with eggnog whip in the middle, but it was still tasty. Not exactly what I was craving though.

I then checked out the other two tables under the tent; local honey, omelets and chili. I was feeling more in the mood for a savory, hearty bowl of goodness, so off to the Pot Head Soup table I went. I had my doubts though. I’m pretty picky when it comes to chili.

Eggnog crepes and a friendly local mom making omelettes for market customers

The smell coming from the pots was a sensual mix of seasonings. Biscuits with honey were available too. The white chicken chili & rice called out to me. A small bowl was only $4.50. Throw in a biscuit for a dollar more. If it was horrible, I could sneak off and toss it somewhere and just load the biscuit with honey until it was edible.

I plopped myself down at the little table set up for customers and dug in. It was delicious. Probably one of the best cups of chili I’ve ever had. It was not too spicy, but not bland by any means. The flavors balanced out beautifully. Dek, who is getting more and more picky about what he eats every day, devoured half of the beans from my soup. He tried to steal my biscuit, but even I have my limit on how much I will share these days.

Dek and I share the white bean chicken chili and rice

In between bites I started chatting with the other 3 people at the table, one of whom was the vendor (and fellow mom) of the omelet and honey stand. I got to hear a little more about the woman who made the chili. Her name was Kathy and she had a dream.

One and a half years ago Kathy dreamt about making soups and chili. She wanted to offer them at the farmers market. It was cheaper than opening a shop. She started out in the back corner of the market. Pretty quickly her little business grew. Friends and chili lovers spread the word throughout town. Soon Kathy was at a much larger tent at the front of the market with two other female vendors offering hot food. They set up a table and chairs for people to eat at. And people came.

While I sat there chatting for about 45 minutes, several people interrupted to say hi, grabbed some chili to take home or joined us for a bite. It was by far the most we had interacted with the locals on our trip and an unbelievably enjoyable experience.

Dek enjoys a free banana from a vendor he had met earlier in the week at the Hilo Farmers Market. I enjoy buying ZilLk mangos from her too.

I chatted with one couple who turned out to originally be from Seattle. Not just some random section of the city either, about 10 blocks from our house! Now that really is a small world. They had left Seattle in 1977 and have been bouncing around the islands ever since, finally landing in Pahoa about 4 years ago.

My stomach was satisfied, my mind was full of stimulating conversation and a tip on some delicious ZilLk mangos from Molokai at one of the fruit stands. It was time to head home so Dek could take a nap and we could finish out our last day on the island.

A cloudy morning in Pahoa should not stop you from visiting the market

Know Before You Go:

  • Pahoa Market is located on the main (and only) road through Pahoa
  • Open Sundays 6am to 3pm
  • Bring cash. No credit cards accepted. There is an ATM a block away.
  • Search out ZilLk mangos from Molokai and Soursop if they are in season
  • Get a bowl of chili from Pot Head. With any luck Kathy will still be in business the next time we visit. She had t-shirts made, so I think she plans on sticking around as long as people keep eating.

Need more Big Island fun? Yesterday was our last full day on the Big Island. By the time you read this we will be on a plane headed home. I will have many more photos and stories to share in the coming weeks as I wrap my head around all that we did. I have over 2000 photos to edit through too. Don’t worry. I won’t make you watch a slide show of them all. 

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6 comments

  1. Awww. Next time come to Oahu and I’ll show you around! I’ll be here a couple more years at least. I don’t even want to think about leaving! I’m leaving a piece of my heart here. But I know realistically we need to be closer to family.

  2. I love farmer’s markets!! And that pic of Dek eating the banana – priceless!!

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