Polynesia is an island chain that spans from Hawaii to New Zealand. The history of these islands is punctuated by the arrival of the British explorer, Capitan James Cook, in 1778. Food, culture, and ideas are measured in relation to this event. As a tropical island chain, Polynesian food centers on fish, fruit (such as breadfruit), and Taro, a starchy root. Through navigational intelligence passed on from one generation to the next through oral tradition, Polynesians traveled thousands of miles on the oceans which has resulted in a modern culture that is infused with several outside influences from the East.
One dish that you can find available in Houston is Poke (pronunciation: rhymes with "okay"). This raw fish salad predates the appearance of Captain Cook, though its modern adaptation and ongoing evolution is a contemporary effort that is being crowdsourced through a myriad of new poke restaurants.
Although there are now dozens of poke restaurants that have surfaced recently, we went to Houston's first Poke eatery to feature the dish for the blog. Check out Ono Poke on the south side of down town. My own preference is for the more traditional (read: simpler) versions of the dish, but don't be afraid to customize yours to taste.
Eat All you Dinner
If you have ever taken a class in comparative religions, then you have probably heard about Mana, a pervasive in animate life force which is controlled by certain people or objects. Mana is an essential component to the Polynesian worldview. This is not just a fun fact about Polynesia, but it relates to food since Mana can be used to cast spells against a person by using something that has been in their mouth. Because of this, Polynesians finish all of their food. The parent in me admits that this is several degrees more creative than the "starving children" line that was used on me to get me to finish all of my food as a kid.