The term "Luau" referred to young tender leaves of the taro plant cooked in chicken and baked in coconut milk. But as of today it is the name of a Hawaiian feast accompanied by hula dance, sounds of ukulele, the steel guitar and wooden drums. At all Luaus there are lots of music, local food and hula dancing. It is an evening feast for fun and excitement. Luau is referred as the party by the Hawaiians for celebrating happy and important events such as births, birthdays, weddings, harvests, military victories and graduations. It is a modern devour for the Hawaiians which has island foods such as kalua pork, chicken teriyaki, fresh fish, tropical fruits etc.
The concept of Luau started in 1819 by the feast held by King Kamehameha II of Hawaii. This symbolizes the end of religious taboos connected with dining, where the women and men dined separately and restricted from sharing food. They banned certain foods to commoners and all women. Prior to Luau, Hawaiians referred their feasts as ‘aha’ aina which means gathering (‘aha) for a meal (‘aina), for occasions such as celebrating success and introducing of a new canoe. The term Luau slowly replaced ‘aha’ aina. This young and small luau leaf is cooked like spinach and mixed with other foods, preparing luau squid or luau chicken.
Later the term Luau meant a particular dish, which has meat and taro leaves baked in coconut milk that referred to as a feast. Royal luaus include a guest list of atleast 1500 for the celebrations of coronations and birthdays with lots of food. In recent times this is considered as one of the highlights of a Hawaiian vacation, prepared by a commercial organization. You can book for luau as you would do for a restaurant or performance, hosted by various organizations in various islands and some includes transportation.
At Luau you can be greeted with a lei (garland), and enjoy with a wide range of delicious foods. You can participate in Hawaiian arts and crafts and games or view reenactments of Polynesian cultural practices. The largest Luaus was hosted by Kamehameha III in 1847, which included 271 hogs, 482 large calabashes of poi, 3,125 salt fish, 1,820 fresh fish, 2,245 coconuts, 4,000 taro plants and various other food. These Luau’s are often for private gatherings and prices vary depending on the seating arrangements. Next was the King Kalakaua’s 50th birthday party where 1500 guests were invited and the food was served in shifts of 500.
The traditional Luau feast was eaten on the floor on lauhala mats and a centerpiece made of ti leaves, ferns, and native flowers about three feet wide was laid. Bowls of poi, sweet potatoes, dried fish, meat covered in leaves etc were laid on the ti leaves.
No utensils are used in Luau. As Luau is an informal get together now-a- days, people are using utensils
Food was taken with fingers. Poi is eaten with three finger, two finger and one finger poi.
The food which is served at Luau includes kalua pig, the pork that is cooked in an imu (an underground oven), fish, limu (seaweed), crab, he’e (octopus), opihi (limpets), lau lau (pork and vegetables wrapped in leaves) and poi. The traditional luau included a wide range of Hawaiian dishes such as bowls of poi, sweet potatoes, coconuts, salt and fresh fish, chicken and pork.
Polynesian Breeze Drink
Sangria Punch Drink
Mimosa Punch Drink
Hawaiian Volcano Drink
Blue Hawaiian Cocktail
Mai Tai Cocktail
Tahiti Club Cocktail
Clothing at most Luau’s is Hawaiian casual is, for men aloha shirts and slacks and for women casual dresses or aloha.
Luau’s are filled up early on a first come first served basis. So make reservations in advance to get the seats.
Handicapped individuals have separate seating arrangements with advance notice.
As you enter the luau grounds photo of the group will be taken and are available on payment of additional fee.
For luau recipes, Hawaiian Luaus, photo collection of the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui and in depth review you can go through the Luau resource guide.