QUESTION # 1: When was the first Hawaii luau?
ANSWER # 1: 1819. The first Hawaii luau in recorded history was thrown by King Kamehameha II in 1819. King Kamehameha and his stepmother, Queen Ka’ahumanu, held the first Hawaii luau with a goal of ending the ancient Hawaii kapu system, a code of conduct that governed every aspect of life in ancient Hawaii. Kapu forbade men from eating with women, and women from eating certain foods at all, so without the original 1819 luau none of the things we enjoy at Kauai luau today would be a part of Hawaiian luau culture.
QUESTION # 2: What is the definition of the word “luau”?
ANSWER #2: There are two definitions: 1. a dish of chicken and taro leaves baked in coconut milk. 2. An elaborate Hawaiian feast featuring traditional Hawaiian dishes and entertainment. Kauai luau style feasts were originally referred to as aha’aina, a Hawaiian word meaning “to gather for a meal”. In the early days of Hawaii luau, all the word “luau” referred to was the chicken and taro leaf dish commonly served at these early luaus. The aha’aina was first referred to as a luau in 1856 in a newspaper article, and the name stuck – today we would never invite guests to a Kauai aha’aina, only a Kauai luau.
QUESTION # 3: Does every Kauai luau have hula dancers?
ANSWER # 2: No. However, almost every Kauai luau will include a traditional hula performance. There are some Hawaii luau that focus exclusively on other Polynesian dance styles, and these same styles are usually included in the after dinner show at a Kauai luau along with the hula. Interestingly, the same Queen Ka’ahumanu responsible for the first Hawaiian luau banned the hula from the islands in 1830 when she embraced Christianity, so luau and hula have not always gone hand in hand.
QUESTION # 4: How is the famous Hawaii luau pig prepared?
ANSWER # 4: The pig is prepared in different ways at different Kauai luau. The whole cooked pigs seen at Kauai luau are known as Kalua pig or Kalua pork. Traditionally, these pigs were only cooked in underground imu ovens constructed in pits dug in the earth – after all, “kalua” means “the hole”. The building of imu has always been a huge part of Hawaii luau custom. However, at some Kauai luau the Kalua pig is prepared using an oven and a modern recipe using special wood smoke flavoring. If you want to be sure your Kalua pig is cooked in an imu, check with Boss Frog’s Kauai luau experts before you choose the Kauai luau right for you. The Smith family luau and the Grand Hyatt luau Kauai are great luaus to visit.
QUESTION # 5: Have Kauai luau always included Mai Tai?
ANSWER # 5: No. Blame it on the king of rock ‘n’ roll. Mai Tais were not a part of the luau tradition until Elvis Presley’s 1961 film Blue Hawaii. Today a perfect Mai Tai is an eagerly anticipated part of the luau Kauai experience.
QUESTION # 6: What is poi?
ANSWER # 6: Mashed taro root of varying consistency. Or, in other words, the name of the purple stuff served in bowls at Kauai luau. Poi was considered sacred in ancient Hawaii, and it was forbidden to fight with an open bowl of poi on the table. As you can imagine, this was sufficient reason to have lots of poi bowls on the table at early Hawaii luau feasts. At Kauai luau today, poi is part of an effort to include traditional Hawaiian cuisine. When attending a Kauai luau, try the poi with Lomi Lomi salmon.
QUESTION # 7: Is fire-knife dancing Hawaiian?
ANSWER # 7: Fire-knife dancing is Samoan. Many Kauai luau after-dinner shows incorporate other Polynesian dance styles, including Samoan fire-knife dancing. Although fire-knife dancing is not native to Hawaii, it has become a staple of modern Hawaii luau. One visit to a Kauai luau after-dinner show and you will see why – it’s breathtaking. We recommend visting the Hyatt luau in Kaui and the Smith family luau.
QUESTION # 8: Are all luau the same?
ANSWER # 8: No. All luau include a feast, but not every aspect of luau culture is part of every Hawaii luau. Now that you are a Kauai luau expert, you can decide for yourself what aspects of luau culture you most want to experience, whether it is learning the hukilau or seeing an imu ceremony. Once you have decided which traditions you want to see at your Hawaii luau, call the luau experts at Boss Frog’s so they can help pick the perfect Kauai luau for you.
QUESTION # 9: Does the buffet at a Kauai luau only include traditional Hawaiian dishes?
ANSWER # 9: No. The purpose of traditional Hawaii luau was to bring the ohana, or family, together and honor the ali’i, or island chiefs. In the early days Hawaii luau feasts included only traditional dishes like Kalua pig or luau chicken. Today, Kauai luau aim to expose island visitors to early Hawaiian culture, while at the same time serving many different kinds of people. Now mainland fare like fried chicken and Asian cuisine like Teriyaki beef sit side by side with bowls of poi at Kauai luau buffets so there is something for everyone to enjoy.
QUESTION # 10: Can children enjoy Hawaii luau?
ANSWER # 10: Yes! Ancient Hawaii luau have always existed to strengthen the ohana, or family, and the keiki, or children, are the heart of the ohana. Modern Kauai luau are no different, and many Kauai luau take pride in being child friendly. Consult the experts at Boss Frog’s to see which Kauai luau feature crafts or teach the hukilau to keep little ones engaged, and bring the kids along. With the right Kauai luau, they will have a great time experiencing Hawaii luau culture.