King Kamehameha IIIn ancient times, Hawaiian men and women ate their meals separately, and a religious law or tabu forbade women and commoners to eat certain foods. In 1819, King Kamehameha II did away with these practices. In fact, the king held a feast in which he was seated and ate with women, thus giving birth to the lu'au.

The traditional meal was eaten on mats that were rolled out onto the floor. The  table was decorated with ti leaves, ferns, and flowers, and food was placed in bowls or directly on the leaves. Kalua pig, or pork cooked in a pit oven, was the main dish at the feasts.

King Kalakaua's 50th birthday partyMerrie MonarchIn 1847, Kamehameha II held one of the largest royal lu'aus. The food prepared for the feast included more than 250 pigs, 3,000 salt fish, and 2,000 coconuts. Another king, who was known as the Merrie Monarch, loved to have parties and celebrations. When King Kalakaua celebrated his 50th birthday with a lu'au, over 1,500 guests were invited!

You may not want to throw such a big party, but having a lu'au is lots of fun, and modern conveniences make cooking the food very easy. The following are some recipes that are featured at A Friend in the Islands, a Web site created by Mike and Kim Crinella of Hawaii. Visit their wonderful site for more recipes.

Main Course

Oven Kalua Pig

Preheat oven to 350-400 degrees F. Pierce pork butt all over with carving fork or score with a knife. Rub salt and liquid smoke into meat. Place pork fat side up in a roasting pan or deep casserole dish. Cover and roast in oven for 2 1/2-3 hours. Remove the pork from pan and shred with two forks. Makes six servings.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig

Pierce pork butt all over with carving fork. Rub salt and liquid smoke into meat. Cook in slow cooker on low for 16-20 hours turning once. Remove meat, shred, and then add juices from slow cooker to shredded meat. Makes six servings.


Hawaiian Sweet Potato Pie

Mix all ingredients except eggs with whisk or mixer until cream texture. Next add beaten eggs to mixture. Stir. Pour into an unbaked 9 inch pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes. Cool thoroughly before slicing. Makes 1 pie.


Hawaiian Ambrosia

In a large bowl, mix pineapple, lychee or mandarin oranges, whipped topping, coconut, marshmallows and milk. Chill 1 hour. Garnish with cherries before serving. Serves 12.

Lilikoi Party Sheet Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together and add eggs one by one, beating well. Stir the baking powder into the flour. Mix the lilikoi pulp and juice. Add flour and liquids in alternate portions to the creamed mixture and stir until blended. Pour into a greased and floured 13 by 9 inch cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until top of cake spring back when lightly pressed with finger. Frost with a butter cream frosting: Mix 1 cup softened butter, 2-½ cups powdered sugar, and just enough milk to make a creamy consistency.


Banana Pineapple Punch

Add sugar to boiling water. Once sugar dissolved mix in the lemon, orange, and pineapple juices as well as the banana mash. Mix well then freeze mixture. Take out of freezer shortly before needing and add 2 quarts bottle of ginger ale to the frozen mixture in punch bowl.

Volcanic Punch

In a large punch bowl add the 3 cans of frozen fruit punch concentrate. Keep one of the empty frozen juice cans. Fill the can with water 6 times and add to punch bowl. Add pineapple juice, one bottle of ginger ale, and ice cubes then stir. Then add as much of the 2nd bottle of ginger ale as possible leaving at least 3 inches from the rim of the punch bowl and stir again. Pour in the can of cream of coconut on top. Will serve 40-70 people.

Background information about the lu'au was provided by History of the Luau:

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