Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Mystery of the Haw Flakes

The first place I can remember living is in a 2-bedroom apartment with my mom in Koreatown where we lived until I was in Kindergarten, I think. We were surrounded by awesome neighbors who left me with a couple of really good memories. The apartment to the left of our door belonged to a Korean family with a little girl who's name I couldn't remember. We used to play together a lot and I remember being in her apartment, having fun and the smells of Korean food that came out of her mom's kitchen. Its amazing that these details are the ones that stuck in my mind.

Another thing I remember about this little girl is that she used to share with me a particular kind of candy. It was a flat round disc, dusty rose in color,  and it kind of tasted like tamarind. After moving a few times and years have gone by, I remember how yummy that candy was, but I never saw it in candy shops, liquor stores or grocery stores. I would remember and search everywhere I could think of, then I'd forget and wouldn't search at all.

Then after so many years, I was sitting down to eat lunch with some friends while in grad school and one of them pulled out this little colorful package with an Asian language on it and rips it open to reveal flat dusty-rose-colored discs, that were bigger than I remembered, but definitely it! I asked her what they were called and she said Haw Flakes. She let me try one and it was confirmed. I asked her where to buy them and she said any Asian grocery should have it.

I eventually found Haw candies at Wing Hop Fung. They had more than just the discs. It was like a cornucopia of Haw! I bought a reasonable amount, but went through it fast. I went back to Wing Hop Fung, but they didn't have them anymore. Sad! So, I visited Assi,  a Korean grocery. They didn't have any Haw, but they did have MSG. Hmmm.

Fast forward to June 2012: I was at a Polynesian festival in Bonelli Park with my parents where they had a booth of candy and snacks that I guess are popular with Polynesian folks. There they were and in bulk and on sale: Haw flakes, 6 packages for a $1!!! I bought about $8 dollars worth.  Yum for a long time!
That's my story of Haw. Here are a few photos and an interesting article. After reading this, I now only eat Haw flakes in the safety of my bed!

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