Luau Serving Suggestions
Wooden serving dishes create a buffet with a tropical feel. Consider lining the center of the table with lush green Hawaiian ti leaves and sprinkle loose flowers in between the serving dishes. Tikis or one of our beautiful sarongs are other easy ways to add a Polynesian flare to the table. Need help deciding what to make? Check out our Hawaiian recipes.
One well known symbol of Hawaiian culture is the wooden bowl or calabash. The origin of the English word "calabash" is most likely derived from the Spanish calabaza, referring to a pumpkin or a gourd. Polynesians didn't make pottery so they relied on gourds and coconuts to use as vessels. While still on the vine gourds were often bound create decorative or useful shapes. Wooden dishes were reserved for royalty and the upper class because of the difficulty and time involved in making them. Beautifully crafted platters and bowls were status symbols to the ancient Hawaiians. Sometimes calabashes were given special names or named after great chiefs, these calabashes were viewed as sacred objects and sometimes children would be named after these treasured calabashes. When Capt. James Cook landed in Hawaii in 1778 he noted the quality the finish and design of dishes and platters used by Hawaiian chiefs. The containers crafted by the Hawaiians were rounded shapes that evolved from the shapes of gourds and coconuts. Koa was the favorite wood of the ancient craftsmen but several other types of wood were also used.
In 1792 King Kamehameha was given a gift of western style tableware consisting of silverware, porcelain and fine crystal. For the first time many western items were becoming available in Hawaii. At first the western items were used by royals and the elite in Hawaiian society. Around 1820 when the first missionaries arrived, with the mission of Christianizing and westernizing the Hawaiians, they introduced western style dress and western household items to the curious chiefs. By the 1840s many Hawaiians were using imported ceramics and glassware. An agricultural boom brought on by the need to feed the California gold rush brought an influx of cash into the Hawaiian Islands. Now the once cash poor natives were now rich and could buy things for the first time. The events that followed Kamehameha's gift of western tableware would lead Hawaii out of the "Age of Wood" and into the modern world.
Care of Wooden Plates & Bowls
Hand wash your wooden dishes with soap and water. Any items with knife cuts should be carefully scrubbed. Clean occasionally with a mild solution of 2 tablespoons bleach in a quart of water. Remove any tackiness from your wooden dishes by rubbing with salt or fine 120 grit sandpaper. Regular use of wooden plates, bowls and cutting boards brings out their natural oils. For enhanced conditioning and a deeper, richer looking grain we recommend applying a coat of mineral oil after washing. Mineral oil will keep the wood moist and prevent cracking. Rub the refined mineral oil into the wood and let it sit for up to 30 minutes, wipe off the excess.