From Taro Comes Poi

Love it or hate it, poi is a traditional Hawaiian dish, made from the ubiquitous taro root.

Melanie Acevedo

Poi, made by pounding the steamed corm, or root, of the taro plant into a paste, is—as one local writer has called it—the "controversial staple of the Hawaiians." Eaten as an accompaniment to many dishes, it's one of those love-it-or-hate-it foods. (It has been described as "mud," and also, rather more colorfully, as "smashed elephant.") Poi comes in "one-finger," "two-finger," and "three-finger" versions, depending on its thickness (the thinner it is, the more fingers you need to eat it). Fresh or day-old poi is mild; as it gets older, it sours—which some folks like.