by Liza Simon
No church bazaar in Hawaii is complete without them: homemade jams and jellies packed with the freshness of Island fruits and sealed by devotees who pick, peel, seed and cook their own backyard bounty. Diane Crawford introduced her creations on the church circuit in 1988 after a friend convinced her to sell her jams and jellies at the annual fair. They were such a hit that Crawford, a registered nurse, began plotting a new career path. Before long, Honolulu’s Mission Houses Museum began stocking her jars under the name Tahitian Goddess—a name that carries not only an obvious allure but is a real reflection of Crawford’s early years. She was born in Tahiti into a matriarchy that introduced her to the joys of cooking with tropical ingredients. "I learned it was a wonderful thing to make a gift out of something as healthy as papaya, ginger, pineapple or mango," Crawford says. The French Polynesian cooking she enjoyed as a child continues to inspire her creations, which include lime-ginger marmalade, Hawaii chili pepper jelly and mango jam.
courtesy Tahitian Goddess
Crawford now counts Macy’s and Nieman Marcus among her clients, and several local chefs use her chutneys, including her inventive guava chutney. Her vivid packaging, inspired by Gauguin’s colors, recently won a top award in the Islands. In her kitchen, though, little has changed. She cooks in small batches, using no preservatives or additives. And she still honors the spirit of church bazaar creations: When customers tell her that she couldn’t possibly make a better marmalade than their mother’s, she laughs, "I always say, ‘Of course not! Your mother’s is always the best.’"