June 21, 2008

How to Have a Luau

With the daily escalating cost of air travel, I'm probably not going to be attending a Polynesian party in Hawaii anytime in the near future.

Were I so inclined, I could throw a party in my own steamy, mosquito-populated backyard. There are plenty of books on the subject. There's no shortage of decorations and supplies either.

Before there was Amazon, with multiple books available on every subject, and party supply stores on every corner with decorations for every imaginable theme, people sometimes made do with what they could get their hands on.

In 1984, one might have used the Hawaiian Luau Recipe Book (circa 1984, 16 pages) as a guide to throwing their own Polynesian theme party.

The sponsors of this booklet were SilverStone cookware, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts and Oscar Mayer. They thought of everything.

First, they give you a little luau history:

Known as pa'ina back in ancient times, luaus have evolved into festive Hawaiian feasts for all occasions. Some last for one meal, some last all day. Some are for baby's first birthday, some are for weddings ... others are for just getting together to have a party.

Traditionally a large earthen pit known as an imu was dug in the ground and padded with banana stumps. Then the pit was filled with sizzling, hot rocks wrapped in leaves and vines. The heat from the rocks then released the moisture from the banana stumps which effectively turned the imu into one giant steamer.

Into the steaming imu was placed a whole pig, fresh fish, lobster, laulaus, chicken, taro, yams, breadfruit, and many other native delicacies.

As good as the food was ... the company was even better. The fact that everybody knew each other combined with the great food and drink to make each luau a memorable fun-filled occasion for all. Soon guests were playing native games and dancing the hula into the wee small hours.
Strangely enough, they even injected a little humor:

Now you can recreate these good times and good feelings right in your own backyard. And don't worry. You won't have to dig up the lawn to build your imu.
The recipes use convenience products from the local supermarket and the use of DuPont non-stick SilverStone cookware is suggested to make preparation and serving even easier on the host or hostess.

To make things more manageable, the meat from the traditional whole pig is replaced with Oscar Mayer ham slices and ham steaks (requiring quite the stretch of imagination I think, but what can you do?). Nothing wrong with Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts in the recipes, though, can't have too many of those tasty little morsels.

The menu suggestion in this booklet goes like this:

  • Pineapple/Ham Pupus (shown above and on the cover)
  • Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce
  • Stuffed Mushrooms Nui
  • Aloha Cheese Dip
  • Macadamia Ham Omelette Waikiki
  • Macadamia Ham Aloha
  • Pacific Island Noodles
  • Island Skillet Ham
  • Apricot Ham Macadamia
  • Bananas Hawaiian
  • Macadami Nut Caramel Sundae Wiki Wiki (shown below)
  • Caramel Sauce

There's liberal use of pineapple, ham and macadamia nuts in all of the recipes. I'm surprised that Dole wasn't included as one of the advertisers, they would have fit in nicely.

And let's not forget the exotic drinks: Tahitian Flower (non-alcoholic) and Hoopihoihoi. It's noted that the sweet fruity taste and high potency of these tropical delights are "perfect for loosening up inhibitions and making your party a social success." Don't forget to use large chilled glasses and garnishes such as fresh fruit, pineapple sticks, marachino cherries and non toxic flowers.

That's not all. Other helpful luau hints are also included. The booklet gives a suggestion for making your own invitations amd advice on dress for the party (aloha shirts, grass skirts, muumuus and bare feet).

With decorations such as this halved coconut shell with a candle in it, you can "make your luau site look like it's right next door to Diamond Head." Flower petals, leaves and other greenery are suggested for the table instead of a tablecloth.

You can add even more authenticity to your luau with a few real Hawaiian words thrown in every now and then.

The book admonishes us not to forget a Hula Contest and Hawaiian Music, as well as a little souvenir like a flower lei or a tiki god for the guests to take home with them.

Despite the large amounts of pineapple and the cutesy recipe names with Hawaiian overtones, it's actually kind of a good, loose guide to throwing a luau. It would be a start anyway, a little bit of Google wouldn't hurt either.

This recipe conveniently utilizes all of the products made by the advertisers. I thought processed cheese dips were more standard fare for football game gatherings, rather than luaus, but who am I to say?


2 slices (1/4 pound) Oscar Mayer Jubilee Ham, diced
1/2 cup green pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
16 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup chopped Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts
1 pound pasteurized processed cheese, diced

Melt butter in a saucepan or skillet with SilverStone. Saute green pepper and ham until pepper is just tender. Add remainign ingredients; stirring over low heat until cheese melts.

Serve hot as a dip with crackers, toast or raw vegetables.


At 9:23 PM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Ha! I'm sure they use all that non-stick cookware at the authentic luaus in Hawaii!

At 3:56 AM CDT, Blogger Rochelle R. said...

My family has a luau every year and the 2008 one is next weekend. I don't know about the ham, we always slow bake a pork roast with a little liquid smoke. I like the drink illustration and I bet there are lots of nice ideas in the book.

At 6:28 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - Looking at the photo of the cookware, my thought was how much storage space all that stuff uses up. I probably had most of those things at one time or another, most of it purchased during the 80s.

Rochelle - What a nice tradition! Pork roast sounds more fitting to me. You should tell us more about your luaus!


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