Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hawaiian Poi Supper

In Honolulu during the late 1800's, the Poi Supper was the traditional culinary entertainment for the Hawaiian ali'i (nobility) and the elite haole (non-native residents).There were strict rules for the Poi Supper: the decor and table arrangements had to be as special and meaningful as the cuisine. Fragrant leis were draped on each chair, while flowers, ti leaves and ferns were scattered down the middle of the table. In the centre was a display of gorgeous tropical fruit. Elegant crystal glasses and heavy silver cutlery were contrasted with poi cups made from coconut shell and bowls made from koa wood. The menu was usually a hybrid selection of Hawaiian and Western specialties. Typically, the starter was a fruit cocktail, followed by fish steamed in ti leaves, pork laulau, poi, and Western side dishes. Dessert was baked bananas or coconut cake. Princess Ka'iulani, the last crown princess of Hawaii, would have been an honoured guest at many such occasion. She would have worn a floral holoku or formal mu'umu'u while her escort would have been wearing a loose white silk shirt with a colorful cummerbund.

1 comment:

Leilehua Yuen said...

Aloha! I truly enjoyed reading your post about poi suppers. It brought back many beautiful memories. When I was a girl, poi suppers were still common in Hilo. We still have them occasionally, but I would love to bring them back more. ust a little point - functional food bowls (rather than those made for display) were generally made form "kou" or "milo" wood, not "koa." The natural oils that give koa its lustrous sheen can make food taste quite nasty. Kou and milo woods do not make food bitter. When koa is used at the table, it is generally for dry or wrapped things, such as salt, inamona, or other items that will not pick up the flavor. Ti leaves also might be laid in a koa bowl to prevent food from contacting the wood. MAhalo for beautiful memories!