Wouldn’t you like to eat raw fish, live shrimps, and shark with “dusky beauties”? This is a Hawaiian luau–at least according to Harmon Buckley:

[Native Hawaiians] have a feast … on every possible occasion. And it is truly marvellous what quantities of food they can stuff into themselves without physical injury. … The average native would go without his grass hut and clothes rather than forego a luau with his big family or a company of friends two or three times a months. The hardest work I have ever seen a Kanaka do has been in preparing for a luau, and some hard work must always be done in getting ready for a luau…

Buckley watched Hawaiians eat live fish:

It has often tried the nerves of an American guest … to see a gorgeously decked young Kanaka woman reach into one of the wooden bowls of water … and snatching therefrom a writhing mullet about twice the size of a sardine, bit off its head and munch the fish down.

Buckley also described how the marine livestock was raised and the seafood was prepared.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many people in Hawaii held and attended luau, as seen in Hawaii’s newspapers. Luaus were a celebration, raised funds for charities, including a “home for destitute Hawaiian women” and patriotic societies, and promoted Hawaii tourism.

The later Hawaiian royals celebrated their birthdays with a luau, including King Kalakaua, Queen Liliuokalani, and Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole. For example, on his fiftieth birthday, King Kalakaua hosted a public luau with over 1,500 attendees. The food included poi, fish, and roasted pig, and entertainment included Hawaiian music and hula.

Poi dogs were a delicacy, and no luau was complete without them. However, dogs were not served to white people, who were not used to eating dogs. However, U.S. Senators visiting Hawaii in 1902 wanted to try all Hawaiian dishes, including roasted dog, which they ate.

For the promotion of Hawaii’s tourism, the Southern California Editorial Association attended a luau by the Hawaii Promotion Committee. The journalists ate while listening to Kaai’s Glee Club singing and playing Hawaiian music. The Evening Bulletin described the spread:

The long tables were covered with ti leaves and ferns instead of the conventional table cloth, and at intervals down the tables were piles of luscious fruit–pineapples, bananas, apples and grapes. At each plate was a green cocoanut filled with its own sweet milk, in which many a toast was later drunk. Breadfruit, poi, fish baked in ti leaves, young pig roasted in the ground, and the many unique native viands were disposed about the sylvan table in tempting array.

– Alice Kim

Search Strategies

within 5 words: luau hawaiian

“In the Land of Poi: A Big Feast in Hawaii in the Native Style”
Evening star, August 2, 1895, Page 9

“The Patriotic Luau”
The Independent, December 13, 1897, Image 3

“Bridal Feast in Hawaii: All Days Are Festival Days on the Islands”
The evening times, June 27, 1898, Page 5

“Hawaii’s Great Feasts: Surprises for the White Man at his First Luau”
The sun, August 7, 1898, 3, Page 2, Image 22

“Hawaiians at a Luau: Shark the Chief Dish at Their National Feasts”
Phoenix weekly herald, September 22, 1898, Image 3

“Will Be a Novelty at the Capital: Washington City to Have a Real Hawaiian Luau”
The record-union, August 26, 1899, Page 8

“Denegration of Luau”
Saint Paul globe, November 11, 1899, Page 3

“Royal Luaus Given by Liliuokalani”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, September 3, 1901

“The Dog Was Good: Hawaiians Enjoying a Good Joke on Senators”
Paducah sun, October 27, 1902, Image 1

“A Gala Day: In Hospitable Wailuku”
The Maui news, July 25, 1903, Image 2

“Ghost Sits down to Native Banquet”
The Indianapolis journal, February 1, 1904, Page 3

“Editors Participate in a Genuine Luau”
Evening bulletin, September 20, 1906, Part II, Image 5

“Great Luau”
The Hawaiian star, May 18, 1907, Page 3

“How the Hawaiians Enjoy Themselves: Their Feats and Celebrations Seem Very Unique to Visiting Americans”
The times dispatch, August 25, 1907, INDUSTRIAL SECTION, Image 28

“Party Is Given on Delegate’s Birthday: Col. Sam Parker’s Home Scene of Merrymaking to Honor Kuhio”
Evening bulletin, March 27, 1911, Page 6

“Story of Luau Carries Moral Worth While”
Honolulu star-bulletin, June 13, 1913, Page 3