Traditional Foods of the Hawaiian Luau

hawaiians raising pig after being steamed
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Traditional Foods of the Hawaiian Luau

A luau is one of the most popular activities to do while vacationing in Hawaii, simply because it’s a whole lot of fun and a great introduction to the traditional Hawaiian culture. Many hotels and resorts offer luaus, as well as other private companies, so it’s not hard to find while on island. But you do want to make sure you book an authentic luau, as some can be overly touristy or hokey. You also want to make sure you’ll be experiencing some traditional food while at this Hawaii luau, like poi, kalua pork, and lau lau.

Many don’t know this, but the focal point of a luau is at the imu, or underground oven. Here the pig is roasted on a bed of ti and banana leaf and during the luau, it is unearthed, prepared, and served to all the guests in a variety of ways. It was tradition to throw a celebration after a pig was hunted and killed, as food was highly revered in the Hawaiian culture. And since pig was a main source of meat on the islands, it is customary to serve pork at every luau. However, for those vegetarians out there, the dinner spread always offers vegetarian options as well.

One of the most common foods served at a Hawaiian luau is laulau, which is a bundle of meat wrapped in ti leaves, almost like Hawaiian style tamale. You can also find a variety of taro dishes, such as poi (taro pounded into a liquidy paste) and kulolo (taro pudding). Poke is also common (raw ahi flavored with green onion and soy sauce), as well as kalua pig, teriyaki chicken or beef, potato-mac salad, fresh fruits, and green salads. And don’t forget the desserts! Haupia is a favorite (coconut pudding dessert), mochi (sweet rice cake), and a variety of sweets that incorporate Hawaiian fruits such as lilikoi, guava, and pineapple. A Hawaii luau is a fun place to sample local dishes and learn a little about the culture and history of Hawaii. Make sure to try a little of everything too, you don’t want to miss out on any of those flavorful foods!

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