Monday, May 25, 2009

Spiritual Eating - Flatbread Company, Maui

I love the small town feel of Paia. It's one of my favorite areas to visit day in and day out on Maui.

I'll usually shop at Mana market to get my organic foods, visit my favorite store, Maui Hands (handmade crafts by local artists), and then walk across the street to my favorite eatery, Flatbread Company for some lunch.

Flatbread Company claims that eating their food is a "spiritual experience." And before you think this is just a metaphor or marketing strategy to promote the business, their pizza dough is actually made of kosher salt, organic flour, cake yeast, and spring water (perhaps similar to the way flatbread was prepared in Jewish culture)...and topped with sauce made from freshly grown organic tomatoes (I believe they have a garden outside) and topped with whole milk cheese other organic vegetables.

What makes this joint unique is that the pizzas are cooked in a real stone oven...which sits in the middle of the restaurant and is always fun to watch. The interior (pictures to come) is a casual setting, with wooden benches and chairs for small to large groups, and a bar to the left.
One pizza I ordered was called "Punctuated Equilibrium" (a theortical critique of Darwinism) topped with rosemary, goat cheese, kalamata olives, red onions, organic tomatoes, fresh italian herbs and mozerella cheese. The pizza was good and the spiritual politics interesting.

The notion of Punctuated Equilibrium states (in a nut shell) that the evolution of species happens in punctuated periods rather than as one continuous flow as Darwin suspected.

Here's how one food philosopher links the theory of Punctuated Equilibrium to flatbread:

"It strikes me that the evolution of human food also exhibits a pattern of punctuated equilibrium. During the Paleolithic, humans and protohumans hunted and gathered. By occasional improvements in tools and hunting implements, the Paleolithic period was punctuated. 10-12,000 years ago the Neolithic revolution ushered in an era of farming which dramatically changed human activity and food patterns...

Today American food is in a new period of punctuation. The organic and natural food movement along with its variants biodynamic, sustainable, and localvore foods has rapidly changed the dialogue and economics of food. Increasingly people see food as important; that how it is grown and where it comes from intimately affects human health and the well being of the world.
Punctuated Equilibrium flatbread marks this important event in the history of American food and honors an advancement in our evolutionary view of life."

{And, by the way, before you think that was all hog-wash, food philosophy is a real legitimate scientific field. i met a woman in my photography class whose daughter is working toward a doctorate degree where she is combining her interests in environmental politics and the food industry to interrogate the impact of foodways on the earth's sustainable nature.}

One last bit...Flatbread Co claims that they have the best zucchini bread. In my opinion, I'd pass up on the dessert. It was dry, unflavorful, and uninspiring. A touch a cinnamon or cardamon would have added a spiced kick to the bread, and it's pairing with coconut ice cream...well, I just don't get that. Coconut and cream and bread? An odd culinary decision. Nonetheless, they give money away to charity, post their politics on wooden signs above the bar, and serve some good eats on the island.

Where's it at:
Flatbread Company, Maui
89 Hana Hwy
Paia, HI 96779
(808) 579-8989

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