Friday, July 19, 2013

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Not a Curl Was Left: Okolehao and the Hogs of the Waianae Range

“No animal shall drink alcohol
 to excess.”

~ George Orwell
Animal Farm

Wild Hog from
Tsunajima Kamekichi's 1887
Fashionable Melange of English Words
In preparing remarks for my talk on moonshine next month at Tiki Oasis, I came across a bit of suspicious journalism.

After a preamble on the natural history and curious habits demonstrated by the wild hogs of the Waianae range on Oʻahu, an anonymous columnist for Honolulu’s Hawaiian Star reported in the summer of 1911 on even more incredulous behavior. The Onlooker columnist claims the report is from “Old Oponui” (a distiller of okolehao, Hawaii’s indigenous moonshine) and concerns what happens when the hogs gained possession of his entire supply.

Readers of Orwell’s Animal Farm will find familiar material here.
Old Oponui, the okolehao expert who makes booze about a mile from the hog-built dam, came along while I was there and told me of the misfortune the hogs had caused him. It seems that, after the dam had been made secure, the porkers lay in the old adobe wallow for about three days while the roasting pigs enjoyed the bathing. Then they got up refreshed and hungry. The small pigs were routed out and sent out for wild bananas which they easily got. Oponui saw them in the woods bringing half ripe bunches of bananas home, where they were spread m the shade to ripen. Two or three nights later there was a sudden rush of hogs at the well-hidden shack where he slept and had his still. The structure was quickly torn down and he just had time to get on his escape ladder, which he uses in crossing a ravine if any revenue men are about, and to see the hogs rolling away two barrels of his good stuff, all he had. The native followed the drove at a distance and when near the hog rendezvous, he climbed a tree and watched. Oponui says the sight almost led him to disbelieve his eyes. 
The pigs had dug a big hole and plastered it with adobe. At the bottom was a sharp piece of lava. They rolled one of the barrels into the hole, where it broke apart, filling the well with okolehao and bringing the remnants of the barrel to the surface, where each piece was nosed out and pushed away, every hog, big and little, excepting four that were stationed about as guards or were opposed to drink on principle, proceeded to get full. They were celebrating the completion of the dam like happy engineers. According to Opunui the sight was almost human. Now and then a hog would rise to grunt but would turn a somersault down hill. Several did nothing but squeal in different keys, leaning lovingly on each other. Younger ones walked round and round the ladies of the party, holding their ears erect and making graceful motions with their tails. One group hustled into an alley between some guava bushes and carried wild onions in their mouths, while they sought to get on their hind legs. They were an inimitable reminder of the Honolulu Onion Club. Between drinks the hogs ate bananas, and by the time the second barrel of okolehao was reached everyone of them tried to sing. It sounded much like a joy party coming home. When morning dawned Opunui climbed down from his tree, for it was then safe for him to return to what was left of his home. The place was a wreck; the good liquor all gone, bananas lying about crushed or half bitten; one old porker under a bush was mourning a broken tusk and not a curl was left in the tail of any pig. That very morning the native had seen every porker at the reservoir lying beside the water into which two had fallen and been drowned. He himself was leaving. He said he was tired of this kind of moonshining and he could do better by going into Honolulu politics and being a hog himself.
~ The Hawaiian Star July 15, 1911

Goes well with:


FrogPrincesse said...

That's hilarious, thanks for sharing. From now on I will think about restless Hawaiian wild hogs every time I enjoy okolehao. Better than pink elephants I guess.
Funny coincidence because I just wrote a little blurb about okolehao today too...

Matthew Rowley said...

The Halekulani cocktail is all well and good, but those Benton's almonds made me realize with a cringe that I am completely out of good bacon. Not quite as rare as being out of limes around here, but a sad circumstance because I want to make a batch now. Right now. I have a few okolehao variants at the house, including Sargent's; time to do some mixing.

Lucindaville said...

Screw those truffle-sniffing hogs. I want one to track down moonshine!