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dbimages / Alamy Islands of Plenty Hawai‘i farmers markets abound with fresh, exotic fare By Joan Namkoong T he predawn light reveals a bustle of activity beneath the dozens of bright-blue plastic tarps arranged at the corner of a city block in Hilo, on Hawai‘i Island: farmers unboxing fresh salad greens, skinny purple eggplants, ripe red tomatoes, orange papayas, bundles of heavily scented basil, handfuls of short, plump bananas, bouquets of red-and-green anthuriums, and orchids in a kaleidoscope of colors. Grabbing a cup of fresh-brewed Hawai‘i-grown coffee and an apple banana (a stubby banana variety with a particularly sweet flavor), I make my way along the busy aisles to preview foods I might try later—a Peruvian tamale, an Indian samosa, a Vietnamese summer roll, a bowl of pad thai noodles, a Spam musubi (rice block with Spam banded by dried seaweed), or a cascaron—a Filipino fried rice-flour “doughnut.” 52 AAM 05.14 Hawaii.indd 52 May 2014 Fresh pineapples and other tropical fruits (above) as well as exotic plants such as the anthuriums at Hawai‘i Island’s Hilo Farmers Market (right) are mainstays at farmers markets in Hawai‘i. Alaska Airlines Magazine 4/18/14 3:36 PM