Found at: Foodland
My brother is very frustrated that he was not raised Hawaiian.
He has brought it up in just about every phone call since he moved to Maui. He feels that our parents really missed a trick raising the two of us in the cold, wet weather of the Pacific Northwest. Especially when there were clear blue waters and 75-degree winters to be had. Looking back at a childhood devoid of surfing, snorkeling, and tropical fruit, my brother feels a great deal of regret. Oh, what could have been, had my parents only seen sense in the 90s.
I was skeptical of his pronouncements at first (as I am with all pronouncements made by a sibling), but now that I’m out visiting him, I have to admit: he’s got a point. Sitting on the porch and looking out over the sea, I can see the appeal of the lifestyle – and especially the food. This ube cake, for example, is exactly the kind of thing my child self would have loved. It’s a vivid purple color (my favorite color), it’s filled with sweet ube paste (which I love), and it’s topped with toasted coconut (which I love even more). If I’d known about this cake in elementary school, it would have been my go-to birthday choice. As it was, I had to make do with chocolate – which is not purple and therefore far inferior.
But as I was raised very firmly on the mainland, ube only came into my consciousness recently. In fact, it is apparently having a bit of a moment, now, in hipster circles. It is originally a purple yam-type tuber from the Philippines, but I have run across it recently in Japanese snacks, hip Seattle restaurants, and occasionally even the Trader Joe’s. It tastes almost exactly like a sweet potato and is a popular dessert ingredient throughout the Pacific. That said, this particular cake is not especially “ube forward.” In fact, it’s really just purple angel food cake with some mashed sweet potato as the filling. But you know what? I don’t care. It’s purple. I love it. Good enough.