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Food has always played an important role in Hawaiian culture, and Luau were no exceptions. The delicious traditional cuisine and even the method of how it was prepared was rich with symbolism and tradition. The Hawaiian Luau was and still is, a great time of celebration for the Hawaiian people. In ancient times luau would’ve occurred when Ali‘i (royalty) came to visit – at which time all the best of the best had to be served. Birthdays, weddings, reunions, ending of war, and the annual Makahiki (a peace period where all war ceased) – were all causes for luau as well.
Today Hawaiian luau celebrations are thrown for these occasions, as well as to welcome tourists to the islands. But when not on vacation, a home luau can be just as fun and festive and you don’t need to know how to hula (the traditional Hawaiian dance). To get started:
Set The Scene.
First things first: flowers. Hawaiians have always integrated their natural environment into their lives, so if available, use palm fronds and other bright tropical foliage to create arrangements. Simple carnations can even be used to string into lei and streamers using fishing line and a needle. But if flowers are too much of a hassle, simply ask your guests to wear flower print clothing and cover your tables with floral or island print cloths. Whole fruits such as pineapples and coconuts can be a nice touch to your tropical décor. Add a touch of Hawaiian music in the background, and perhaps a tiki torch or two and your scene is complete.
Now the truly important part of any Hawaiian luau – ono (delicious), local food. Remember, Hawaiians relied on the sea and land to sustain their needs. This meant that meals always included seafood and vegetables. Starches were a big staple for the Hawaiians as well. In ancient Hawaii this would have meant mainly kalo (taro) or ‘ulu (breadfruit). Modern day luaus however, could never be without rice and of course, Kings Hawaiian Sweet bread.
For the pupus (appetizers) a large salad, fruit bowl, and barbeque skewers are all excellent choices. Seafood, traditionally raw fish and opae (shrimp), is always a welcomed addition as well, but we suggest tailoring your menu to the foods your ohana loves to give things your own personal twist.
Kalua Pork would definitely be a luau’s main dish. To replicate this try cooking shredded pork with cabbage in a big wok pan and flavor with shoyu, pepper, and garlic salt for ­tropical flavor that’s oh-so-tasty on King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. For the entrée you might also try grilling some fish, or chicken alongside with pineapple for a fruity sweet taste that’s also scrumptious with flavored with sea salts. Cooking outside makes any occasion more festive with ohana.
Last, but just as important – let’s talk dessert.  A traditional dessert for a Hawaiian luau would be kulolo – a taro and coconut milk puddding. While delicious, it’s a bit unrealistic outside of Hawaii, so opt for the modern desserts commonly found at luau such as sliced tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, bananas) over King’s Hawaiian bread pudding with vanilla ice cream – which is always a favorite.
With the menu, luau party decorations and setting complete – you are ready for the most important Hawaiian tradition – sharing your aloha spirit with ohana. Enjoy!