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Poi is made from the taro plant ( Colocasia esculenta ), the 14th most cultivated crop on earth. Taro is cultivated both in the dry uplands and in marshy lowlands, irrigated by streams. The planters of wetland taro built walls of earth reinforced with stone to enclose their taro field.

Although taro is eaten around the world, only Polynesians make poi. Traditionally they cooked the starchy, potato-like taro root, or corm, for hours in an underground oven called an imu. Then they pounded the taro corms on large flat boards, using heavy stone poi pounders. The taro was pounded into a smooth, sticky paste, then stored air tight in ti leaf bundles and banana sheaths for storage, future trading, or long expeditions. By slowly adding water to the paste, which was then mixed and kneaded, the perfect poi consistency was created.

Someone once described poi as “a gray, nebulous blob of nothingness." When Captain Cook tasted poi for the first time, he commented, “the only artificial dish we met with was a taro pudding, which, though a disagreeable mess from its sourness, was greedily devoured by the natives.” Poi is undoubtedly an acquired taste.

In game terms, the Poi card does not provide any Victory Points to the owner- it would have to taste much better to do that! But it was the perfect food for taking on long voyages- a filling staple food that could keep from rotting for long periods of time, even in a tropical climate. So, the Poi card provides its owner with a movement bonus. His canoes can move 3 hexes instead of the usual 2 hexes. This can be quite a shock to his opponents when he reveals the card, and sends his warrior canoes to islands that seemed to be safe! A more peace-loving owner of the Poi card will use it to simply reach the far-flung island groups of his empire more quickly.

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