Who doesn’t love a Hawaiian Luau? Fruity tropical drinks, roasted meat, tiki torches, leis, ukulele music and aloha wear (you know the Hawaiian shirts your Dad only wears on vacation). While Hawaiian Luaus are popular party themes for birthdays, corporate parties or anniversaries, many people don’t know the origin of the luau.
Prior to contact with the western world, Hawaiians celebrated special occasions with large feasts called a pa‘ina or 'aha‘aina. A birth, war victory or the launching of a newly crafted canoe was an occasion to celebrate with family and friends. Certain foods that were served represented strength and other foods signified what they wanted to accomplish. Women and commoners were prohibited from eating certain delicacies like moi, pork and bananas, and men and women were also forbidden to eat their meals together. But in 1819, these religious taboos were abolished by King Kamehameha II. In a symbolic act, King Kamehameha feasted with the woman and the first luau was created.
The name of “luau” comes from the signature dish always served at these gatherings which is called luau. The luau dish is made of chicken baked in coconut milk and combined with tender leaves of the taro plant. In traditional Hawaiian fashion, luaus were eaten sitting on Lauhala mats rolled out on the bare floor with floral centerpieces laid out the length of the mat. The basic menu consisted of bowls filled with poi, a Hawaiian dish made from pounded taro root; multiple platters of meat; sweet potatoes and dried fish. The meal was always eaten using your hands and fingers.
After World War II, Hawaiian tourism exploded and the luau became very popular. Tourists from all over the world were excited to experience various Hawaiian customs and food. Palm trees, hula dancers, ukuleles and surfboards became iconic images of Hawaii. Many movies were made in Hawaii; Pearl Harbor, From Here to Eternity, Elvis’s Blue Hawaiian, and who remembers the luau scene when the Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii? But not everyone can afford to go to Hawaii, so people brought the Hawaiian Luau tradition stateside and adopted it as a popular party theme.
If you’re looking to experience a Hawaiian Luau for your next big entertaining event, B & M Clambake can create the perfect one for you - complete with complimentary leis, and utensils! You don’t have to eat with your fingers, unless you want to! We feature the Kahlua Pork (a whole pig cooked on site), Pulled Pork, and Teriyaki Chicken with Pineapple. Sides include Oriental Vegetables, Sweet N’ Spicy Thai Noodles, Mandarin Orange & Toasted Almond Salad, Tropical Fruit Medley, Tahitian Punch and Pina Colada Cake.
Want to switch the menu up a little? No problem – just contact B & M Clambake’s outdoor catering and cooking specialists. They will help you tailor your Hawaiian Luau menu so your guests feel like they’re partying on Waikiki beach!
Check out these other themed menus:
Check out B&M Catering's Hawaiian Luau Pinterest Page where we have collected some great luau additions. From pig cakes to centerpieces to adult libations, there are ideas for every style and budget.