It’s been three long and lonely years since I’ve last had a Punahou Malassada. And these years have passed by with great pain when my parents would phone the first week of each February, regaling me with the stories of the many malassadas they were lucky enough to consume. “I’ll save some in the freezer!” I was promised every year, but by the time summer rolled around, the malassadas would have somehow, magically disappeared into my sister’s stomach. Such are the hardship of my life.
But this year, this year was different, very different. You see, Steph went abroad to Melbourne this semester and didn’t have to leave Hawaii until the Monday after our high school carnival. Which means that she got malassadas. She even called me and over the phone I heard noise of carnival, the rides, the food booths, think teriburgers, Portuguese bean soup and even the Hawaiian plate and I swear could even catch a whiff of the crisp, freshly fried malassadas bathing in a secret blend of sugar, cinnamon, and I suspect, a hit of nutmeg. What I would have given to be there in person!
But instead I went back to my homework, creating an auditing presentation and reading about the SEC and federal regulations. And Friday went, Saturday came, and Sunday was long. So was Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I went to the mailroom. And there was a package for me.
It looked like this. Did someone send me a can of soda? Tennis balls? I looked at the return address: STEPH SHAO.
I ran back to my dorm, up three flights of stairs, gasping and out of breath. I whipped out my blogging camera and shot pictures (just for you). Then when I could wait no longer I tore the package apart.
Something was in this clear container that previously held locally made smoked squid. It was golden, it looked like dessert. OMG. It could not be!
But it was, it was! STEPH SENT ME A MALASSADA IN THE MAIL. I didn’t event think this was possible! THE PUNAHOU MALASSADA. Holy cow. THANK YOU THANK YOU STEPH! It had been sitting in the mailroom for a while though – was it still good? I took it of the Ziploc bag and popped it in the toaster. Five minutes later, I carefully removed it, and generously dusted my golden ball of doughy happiness with sugar. Then I bit it. Sure, it was little more sour than I would have liked and it was very greasy (but hey, worse things can happen over the course of five days in the mail). But what I ate was the memory of Punahou Carnival. The good years of middle school and high school were I spent the first weekend of every February basking in the fun and joy of carnival. But it was not the ferris wheel and pirates ship that made me happy (those made me throw up). It was the malassadas, and perhaps even more importantly, my friends. I remember waiting in the ever growing lines of locals hungry for their once a year treat of the best malassadas on the island.
A quarter would buy you a tennis ball size treat of pure heaven, fried hard and crispy on the outside and rolled sugar and magic. I would always burn my tongue, but it was so worth it and I’d easily do it again. Once you broke past the crust, you would be rewarded by the most awesome doughyness, soft, sweet and eggy, like nothing you would dare to imagine in your wildest dream. One year I even worked at the malassada booth, and boy, I was never more than happy to be surround by vats of oils and hundred of pounds of sugar. That’s carnival for you. And one year, my friends and I’ve decided, we will all go back. Sometime in the years after we’ve graduated college but before we’re all married and tugging screaming toddlers around. And it’ll be just like we never left.
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If you stick around the western pu’erh scene long enough, you’ll hear about people setting up a variety of different storage setups. Unfortunately there is only a light track record for us to draw on. A handful of 10-15 year old western stored pu’erh has been lightly circulated but this isn’t exactly a quick feedback loop. While some folks flirt with fairly complex systems of storage, most people end up settling on something relatively simple. Why is that?
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