The Hawaiian luau history dates back to ancient Hawaii. In ancient Hawaii it was a strong religious belief that men and women
ate their meals separately, they also ate different types of food.The Hawaiian luau history dates back to ancient Hawaii. In ancient Hawaii it was a strong religious belief that men and Commoners and women were forbidden to eat certain items that were considered delicacies. These delicacies were for royalty only. In 1819 King Kamehameha II abolished these traditional religious practices. As a final end to this practice, King Kamehameha II ordered a feast of delicacies and sat down and ate with the women and commoners. That is what started the luau.
The name luau came from one of the dishes considered a delicacy. Taro leaves combined with chicken and baked in coconut milk was called luau. Today we call it luau chicken. The luaus were always placed on the floor on large mats that had a centerpiece of Ti leaves. This centerpiece was three feet wide and the length of the mat. The food was placed on the Ti leaves. Included were pig cooked in a underground oven (imu) all day long, bowls of Poi (mashed Taro root), dried fish, salted meats, sweet potatoes and fresh fruits. At the luau the Hawaiians ate all of the food with their fingers. Poi is a main staple in the Hawaiian diet and is made by mashing taro roots into a smooth liquid. (almost pudding consistency).
Luaus were not just regular meals, but large feasts with many people invited. It was told that at the Coronation luau for King Kalakaua in 1883, The tables were draped in white linens and decorated with ferns, leaves, and flowers almost covering the table linens. There were so many native guests wearing fancy fragrant leis that the sweet floral smell was almost overpowering. Royal luaus were done on a huge scale. King Kamehameha III hosted a luau in 1847 that included 2,245 coconuts, 4,000 taro plants, 482 huge bowls of poi, 3,125 salt fish, 1,820 fresh fish and 271 hogs along with many other fresh fruits and delicacies.
King Kalakaua was known for his love of giving parties and his love of the hula. He was given the nickname of the Merry Monarch. He threw a huge luau for his 50th birthday and invited more than 1,500 guests. There were so many people there that they had to be fed in 3 different shifts.
The tradition continues today, with luaus all over Oahu. Oahu luaus are located in different areas of the island and many Islanders still have their own luaus for birthdays, weddings and other occasions. If you would like to have your own luau, there are plenty of Luau recipes to be found on this website. To learn more about the Hawaiian luau history visit the Polynesian Cultural Center While in Oahu.
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