Friday, June 19, 2009

Background of the First Luau's

A week from tonight my husband and I are hosting a small Hawaiian Luau for our June dinner party. I have been looking around the internet for some background of the traditional luau. From what I have read- the Luau that we will be hosting will not be an authentic luau with Poi, Taro Root and Roast Pig. But it will have a festive tropical atmosphere.

Where the first Luau originated:
A feast where the King Kamehameha II ate with women was the symbolic act which ended the Hawaiian religious tabus, and the luau was born.(it had previously been banned the eating of men and women together)
The favorite dish at these feasts is what gave the luau its name. Young and tender leaves of the taro plant were combined with chicken, baked in coconut milk and called luau.
Bowls filled with poi, a staple of the Hawaiian diet made from pounded taro root, and platters of meat were set out and dry foods like sweet potatoes, salt, dried fish or meat covered in leaves were laid directly on the clean ti leaves.
Much to the consternation of the proper Victorian visitors, utensils were never used at a luau, instead everything was eaten with the fingers. Poi of various consistencies got its name from the number of fingers needed to eat it… three finger, two finger, or the thickest, one finger poi.

How the Luau tables were decorated:
The traditional luau feast was eaten on the floor. Lauhala mats were rolled out and a beautiful centerpiece made of ti leaves, ferns and native flowers about three feet wide was laid the length of the mat. Tables were draped with white, but the entire tops were covered with ferns and leaves massed together so as almost to form a tablecloth of themselves; quantities of flowers were placed about mingling with the ferns… The natives had turned out in great numbers, and the scent of their leis of flowers and maile leaves was almost overpowering.

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