“Fish and poi” — where did it come from?
Traditionally, you had to have both ‘ai and i‘a for your meal to be considered a complete meal, and not just a snack, said Malia Nobrega-Olivera of Hawai‘inuikea School of Hawaiian Knowledge during Na Kalo i‘a presentation that is a part of the OceanFest programming at Kukui Grove Center.
A‘i would usually refer to kalo, or taro, or other vegetables, while i‘a would often refer to fish, but could also refer to something like salt. Thusly, if you had kalo and salt, you had a complete meal. This is where the idea of fish and poi originated, having a balanced meal in terms of ‘ai and i‘a.