Loco Moco

Please, please, please, as James Brown, the hardest working man in show business, used to scream, please, please please don’t tell my wife about this post.

This, obviously, will take some explaining.

You see, i am up in these mountains attempting to be reclusive, monk style, and write. i am surprised i’ve been pretty damn good at it. But there were a couple of things causing me…okay, okay, it was my choice…to wander from my monk-hood discipline of writing with walk/hike/runs breaks and otherwise isolation. As most of you already know, my last column was published in The Lebanon Democrat today. And one of my best friends ever, the Shreq of the Shreq and Donkey duo of which i was…yep, Donkey, Pete Toennies came home from the hospital today after shoulder replacement surgery yesterday. Pete, if you don’t know retired as a Navy SEAL captain. He and i met on a legendary 1979-80 deployment to WESTPAC.

So i thought i would celebrate a good run with my hometown paper and honor Pete.

Now there are many ways i could do this. If i thought hard enough, i could have probably conjured from the originally overstocked and fast dwindling groceries in the refrigerator and the cupboard. So i assessed. And i remembered. The assessment function revealed i still had a package of ground beef i had not touched in the refrigerator. i remembered a dish Pete and i revel in. Unfortunately, neither of our wives are thrilled with its nutritional value. Mine is downright revulsed.

In the early part of this decade, Pete and i were marketing to the Navy a product that made a lot of sense, would have helped the Navy meet some requirements, and would have saved a lot of money. So of course, the stakeholders eventually decided they didn’t want it. After all, it would be treading on their territory and they might (which they never did) figure out a way to do it in house. But in the course of our marketing, our old friend and shipmate in that long ago deployment, OW Wright, arranged for the two of us to brief a whole bunch of Navy security types in Pearl Harbor.

Pete and i flew in  and rented a car the day before the brief. It was past midday and we were hungry. We tried to find the monkey bar in Pearl City, but it had been quite a while and we couldn’t locate it, if it still exists, which is not likely. Not finding it was probably a good thing because someone later told me PETA or some other well-intended but misguided organization had gotten rid of the monkeys (hmm, wonder if they used one of those relocation services). Finally, we stopped at a a place advertising great food. It turned out to be a bowling alley restaurant on the overhanging balcony of the lanes. We checked the menu and weren’t particularly impressed. But we both wondered about the special, Loco Moco. The waitress described it, and we didn’t blink an eye ordering Loco Moco.

You see, Loco Moco is  a modern local Hawaiian dish on a bed of rice covering a dinner plate. Then there is a half-pound or more of cooked ground beef. On top of that is one or two fried eggs (you can get three eggs if you let the waitress know that’s what you want). All of this is covered with a shellacking of brown gravy. i now know why there are a lot of really big native Hawaiians.

Several years later, Pete and his wife Nancy began to have us join them on a Kauai vacation. It has become an almost every other year tradition. One reason is the four of us are good golf partners. Also Pete and i like to play when the women are pursuing more cultured activities. Our favorite course in Kauai is Kiahuna. There are short lava rock fences supposedly created by the Menehune, a Hawaiian version of Leprechauns. On the back nine between fairways is the remains of the rock home of the Portugee, a guy who became like an overseer of a good chunk of the island. The remains of his rock tomb vault is several paces behind the home ruins. Fascinating but off point.

However, on a day when the ladies were being cultural, Pete and i stopped for lunch in between a day of two rounds. And there on the menu much to our surprise (delight) was “Joe’s Loco Moco.” i am happy to report Joe’s is just as good if not better than the bowling alley version.  Of course, that could be influenced by the fact we washed Joe’s down with two mai tai’s, another thing Joe is very good at.

So tonight, i went back to the grocery and bought some packaged microwaveable rice and ready to mix and serve brown gravy. i made a dent on that refrigerated ground beef and decreased the number of way too many eggs and made my version of Loco Moco. It wasn’t bad and absolutely of no real nutritional value. So of course, i loved it, wished for Pete and hoped to god, Maureen wouldn’t find out.

It wasn’t quite as good as Joe’s on Kauai because i washed it down, gulp, with Pellegrino, not a mai tai.


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