New at Zócalo


How Hawai‘i Taught the World to Love Raw Seafood

Whether Served with a Beer in Honolulu, or Goji Berries in Dusseldorf, Poke is One of the Islands' Global Exports

By Martha Cheng

    Where did all this poke come from?
    You may have asked yourself that as poke—the chopped raw fish salad —begins to appear everywhere, from Paris to Pennsylvania. The short answer is, poke is another global food with deep roots in Hawai‘i.
    Native Hawaiians have long known the pleasures of seasoned raw seafood. Being surrounded by the ocean probably has something to do with it. Centuries before Western contact, native Hawaiians would prepare i‘a maka (raw fish) and chop up reef fish (as in the striped and brightly colored fish you see when snorkeling in Hawai‘i), bones and all.
    They would season it with sea salt dried in the sun; limu, or seaweed; and ʻinamona, roasted and crushed kukui nut, or candlenut. Without refrigeration, adding salt was both a method of seasoning as it was preserving, while the other elements gave the raw ...


The Puerto Rican Trees That Can Stand Up to Hurricanes

In El Yunque, the Tropical Rainforest Has Evolved to Shed Its Limbs to the Wind—But Stay Upright

By Stephen Long

    El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is one of the jewels of the United States system of national forests—and its only tropical rainforest. When talking about El Yunque, forest ecologist Jess Zimmerman can’t help describing what happened here during hurricane season last year: “First, we had Hurricane Irma. I call that one a ‘drive by.’ It wasn’t so bad, and it got us all ready for Hurricane Maria, which went the length of the island. After Maria, if you looked out the window here, there wasn’t a leaf on a tree.” Right after the storm, it took construction crews eight days to open the road to the research station Zimmerman manages. Excavators shoved the trees to the side and cleared the boulders and dirt from several landslides.
    When I visited, six months after Maria, the roadside debris still hadn’t been removed. Electric lines drooped from trees or lay abandoned on the shoulder. Tattered blue tarps served as makeshift roofs. Other houses stood abandoned, missing ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews

  • Could California's Population Actually Shrink?

    As the Golden State Hits 40 Million This Summer, Trends Point to a Less Populous—and Challenging—Future

        This should be the summer when the population of California finally surpasses 40 million.
        We should celebrate by reflecting on just how small we are.
        Of course, we won’t. California, like an insecure male lover, is always bragging about how big it is. ...

  • What's So Wrong About Californians Colluding With This Russian?

    A River Reveals the Historical, Mystical Ties That Bind Our State to the Land of Putin and Tolstoy

        Take my guilty plea, Mr. Mueller. Because this Californian has been colluding with the Russians.
        To be sure, I didn’t subvert any elections. But one recent week this spring, when my colleagues were out of the office, I snuck away to visit ...

  • Video Highlights

    Looking Back at Four Years of “What It Means to Be American”

    The Smithsonian/ASU/Zócalo Project on U.S. History and Identity Is Just Getting Started

    Since its launch on April 14, 2014, the "What It Means to Be American" project has convened 12 events in seven cities and published more than 300 essays on American history and identity. And we're just getting started. Here's a look back at where we've been, and where we're going.