Wednesday, June 22, 2011
SHAVE ICE - PERFECT FOR A HOT DAY
The nearest thing to it here in the states is a snow cone, but frankly it is a poor excuse as a replacement for "shave ice" - the real kind one gets in Hawaii. And of course snow cones are not all that easy to find anyway, and the desperate man's replacement for a snow cone is a Slurpee.
Neither a Slurpee nor a snow cone satisfies me. I have been known to buy a snow cone at an AYSO soccer match, when my daughter hauled her snow-cone maker to the match each Saturday during the season. It is really hot in the summers where we live, and snow cones satisfy the need for something cold. But anyone who has had an authentic shave ice on the islands will know that one is not a very good replication for the other!
At one time - I'll guess in the mid 1980s - a Hawaiian Shave Ice store opened up in a strip mall in the little town of Orange where we were living then. It obviously didn't generate the quantity of customers necessary to stay open, and after that first summer it went out of business, much to our family's chagrin. It was the real stuff and we missed it when it left.
We lived in Orange for close to 20 years, relocating to the inland empire (first to Loma Linda and then to Mira Loma) when I retired. A month or so ago my son and grandson were in the area and we decided to drive down to Orange for lunch at another great place there that luckily had been in business for a long time.
Our arrival in Orange in 1975 happened just a year or so before Hassan's Lebanese restaurant opened on Glassell adjacent to Chapman College. It was owned by the Hassan family, which included Papa Hassan and his sons Hassan, Mahmoud and Mustafa. We became one of their regulars during our years in that city, and even after we moved we often drove down because we absolutely could not find any local middle-eastern food that satisfied us the way the Hassan family made it.
Originally named simply "Hassan's," it later was re-christened "Papa Hassan's," after the patriarch was hit by a car and killed as he was making his usual daily walk to the restaurant. The older Hassan son started a restaurant in Newport Beach and the two younger brothers kept the Orange location.
So imagine our dismay recently when the four of us arrived at the restaurant to find it out of business, shuttered up tightly and painted the same color as the college buildings. According to what we later learned, a fairly serious kitchen fire occurred and the family decided to get out of the business entirely instead of starting over somewhere else.
About four blocks away from Papa Hassan's there was a Cuban Restaurant, Felix's Cafe, where we also used to eat on occasion. It was "on the circle" in the center of town and was one of the few sidewalk cafes in town. They had a Cuban sandwich to die for -- Cuban bread, roast pork, ham and a dill pickle, with a plaintain on the side. So the four of us decided if we couldn't eat at Hassans we'd head to Felix's.
You know the expression, "You can't go home again?" Well, I would guess that Felix's has had a change in ownership since we left town some 10 years ago, and the Cuban Sandwich was no longer the sandwich of our dreams. I could tell by looking at it when it was served that a change had happened. So driving to our old stomping grounds is no longer a necessity.
In our more rural part of Southern California we have a nice selection of ubiquitous chain restaurants to choose from but we are bereft of anything authentic in Middle-eastern food, Chinese food, Cuban food, Jewish deli food -- and Hawaiian shave ice. Los Angeles has it all, of course, and sometimes we just have to make the trek into the city (some 60 miles to the downtown area) if we want the real stuff.
The city of Orange was much nearer to us in distance -- but sad to say, there is nothing much of our past there anymore. It's probably a combination not only of societal changes (all the old familiar things being gone) and our aging (all the old familiar things going!) Businesses are changing and we are becoming redundant. All this is, I think, a sad state of affairs.
I've got dental appointment this morning, after which my mouth may be so sore I'd wish for a shave-ice to dull the pain, but I just might have to settle for a Slurpee.