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Hawaiian Luau Vocabulary

When you attend an authentic Hawaiian Luau, it is more than just showing up and enjoying the scenery, the food, and the entertainment. A luau is an immersion in Hawaiian culture, and this experience dates all the way back to the days of ancient Hawaii, with many of the same traditions of the luau still in place today. A luau is so much fun, with endless entertainment, a great meal, and dazzling performances that will have you dancing in your seat, or even in the aisles. If you’re currently exploring your luau options, you’ve come across some things that you might not know what they are, and you’re hurriedly heading to a search engine to figure out just what things mean. Hawaiian vocabulary is tough, with many words from the Hawaiian language seamlessly used throughout everyday life, and unless you know what they mean, you might be a bit lost when interacting with locals and residents of the islands.

Here are a few key words to expand your Hawaiian luau vocabulary and give you a head start on your vacation:

Kalua Pig or Kalua Pork – this is the entrée that is the main course at any Hawaiian luau. The whole pig is cooked in an underground oven, resulting in one of the best dishes you will have during your vacation.

Imu – the underground oven that we just mentioned, that is called an Imu. A hole is dug in the ground, lined with hot coals, banana leaves, wet burlap, the pig, more banana leaves, and finally covered with coals, more burlap and dirt to make a hot pit that perfectly cooks the pig.

Hula – most know what the Hula is, but for those who don’t, this is the dance that is synonymous with Hawaii. The performance is beautiful.

Mai Tai – who doesn’t love a Mai Tai? This tropical cocktail is a mixture of light rum, juices, dark rum, and grenadine, layered in the glass to make a refreshing drink that is featured at every luau in Hawaii.

Poi – no, that is not purple pudding on the buffet line. That is poi, one of the oldest dishes in Hawaiian cuisine. Made from the steamed root of the taro plant, poi is mashed and mixed with water until reaching the desired consistency. Some prefer it thin and runny, while others prefer it very thick. Either way, it is a staple in Hawaii, and you will need to know how many fingers to measure the consistency with, since this is how poi was eaten in ancient Hawaii.

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