The Queen's Medical Center, celebrating its 150th anniversary, invoked the Hawaiian time period in which it was founded and set the table for an 1800s-style poi supper last Saturday (June 27, 2009).
The poi supper was held on the front lawn, in elegant white tents near majestic trees. With foliage screens blocking the view of traffic on Punchbowl Street, guests did have a sense of going back in time.
I was reminded of a famous 1889 black-and-white photo showing a table groaning with dishes and bowls of food. At the head of a large table in the Waikiki home were visiting author Robert Louis Stevenson, then-Princess Liliuokalani, King David Kalakaua, and Stevenson's mother. All of the diners were dressed up and wore maile lei. But in the Hawaiian tradition, it was clear that the formal affair was also a get-comfortable-and-eat-and-drink-hearty party.
You'd think that conversation at the modern Queen's outdoor soiree would have been pierced by the sirens of ambulances arriving at the hospital's emergency room nearby. No, it was a peaceful couple of hours in Honolulu. Instead, diners heard the wonderful harmonies of the Makaha Sons performing live.
Among the guests were prominent citizens Susan Kobayashi (who with her husband Bert served as event hosts), Lynn Ariyoshi and Norman Chong who recovered from serious illnesses and who count themselves grateful to have been treated at Queen's.
Queen's also treats people who are unable to pay.