Who Doesn’t Love a Good Luau?

Linda was supposed to be on post patrol today, but she came down with a bug . . .  and had an “accident” all over my Prada bag.  Okay, faux Prada bag.  Either way, it wasn’t pretty.

In case ya haven’t guessed—hey, it’s Rey ya’ll.

JJ and I, and Linda if she’s better, are heading to a luau tomorrow, courtesy of Honey Konani, a friend we made during our Can-You-Hula-like-Hilo-Hattie case.  We’d helped find her son, Xavier.  He’d run away a number of times and was into crystal meth, the poor kid.  Fortunately, he got straightened out and is still on the straight and narrow—in great part to his love of surfing and a new girlfriend named Sunnie.

This family luau is going to be huge; they’re expecting 350 people!  That’s a heckuva luau.  And it promises to be a whole lotta fun.

For those not in the know (like me before I went Googling), a luau is a traditional Hawaiian gathering—a celebration that features entertainment, Hawaiian music and hula, and a ton of food.  Yummy delights include, but aren’t limited to: poi (mashed taro paste), poke (cubed ahi tuna, served raw and dressed with various sauces), lomi lomi salmon (a chilled, salty side dish of diced salmon), laulau (salty pork, chicken or fish wrapped in edible taro leaves on the inside and ti leaves on the outside) and haupia (coconut pudding, one of my favorites) and, of course, Kalua pig. WPlauaAB

Kalua pig—which is so delish (sorry my veggie friends)—is a traditional Hawaiian cooking technique which uses an imu, a sort of buried oven.  “Kālua”, as an FYI, actually means “to cook in an underground oven”.

Depending on where you look, luau means “feast” or “taro plant”.  The taro plant was part of a popular dish served during the great mega meal: chicken and taro-plant leaves were baked in coconut milk.  A luau was originally called ‘aha’aina, meaning “gathering meal”—aha for gathering and aina for meal—and brought together people to honor an important life event or accomplishment.

Prior to the 19th century, there were religious traditions related to the ‘aha’aina, which controlled the types of food eaten, who it was eaten with, and its symbolic meanings (like decency and strength).  Men and women didn’t eat together, and women and everyday people couldn’t eat specific exotic treats; this was only permitted by ancient Hawaiian chiefs and the King.

In 1819, King Kamehameha II ended the traditional practices and celebrated with a feast that allowed women to eat with the men.  . . . Over my shoulder, Linda mumbled something about this “demonstrating a dramatic shift in societal norms”.  Sure, whatever.  But it did give way to the modern-day luau.

As a fun fact, the largest luau took place in 1847 when Kamehameha III hosted a fab feast that featured the following:

271 pigs  /  482 poi-filled gourds  /  3,125 saltwater fish and 1,820 freshwater fish  /   2,245 coconuts  /  4,000 taro plants.

Now, that’s a lotta food.  Can you spell y-u-m?  (Think I’ll wear stretch pants for the festivity.)

Aloha!