The Luau. To modern westerners it is a Hawaiian party where hula dancers shake to the drums under torch lights, and baked pork is served with rum-saturated Mai Tai's. Few of those tipsy revelers are aware that the luau's origins are from a much darker chapter in Polynesian history.
Far to the south and west of peaceful and idyllic Hawaii in the Fiji Islands, where the practice of cannibalism had been perfected to an art, the luau feast had it's more sinister origins. Pigs were scarce and precious, but humans were plentiful and just as tasty, if not more so. A war with a neighboring tribe, a raid on another island, or a group of shipwreck survivors would always turn up the makings for a gala feast. It was there that the term long pig was coined to describe this favored meat and to distinguish it from the more precious pig. Special tools were invented for eating this special meat, and even today it is possible to pick up replicas of ancient Fijian Cannibal Forks as a souvenier of the islands.
Some of the Fijian Kings became voracious cannibals, and would send out frequent raiding parties to bring back meat for their tables. It was common for these raids to attack near the shores where the women would do their wash. This was in order to insure that the catch would include a large number of female captives. While it was often taboo for women to partake in the eating of long pig, it was certainly not taboo for women to be long pig, for the Fijian cannibals found that the flesh of young women was more delicate, tender and flavorful than that of men.
Long Pig was often roasted whole in an earth oven. The captive girl would be cleaned in a stream, and often left for several hours or days in the stream for her flesh to become even more tender. Once cleaned and tenderized, she would be flavored with sea salt and fruit juices and wrapped in Lotus or Kava leaves until completely cocooned.
While she is being prepared, a roasting pit would be dug and lined with hot stones. Once the stones were red hot, they would be covered with earth. The leaf-wrapped girl would then be placed into the pit on top of the hot stones, and then covered with the rest of the earth from the hole. It would take an entire day for her to roast that way, but when done she would be removed from the earth oven and unwrapped to reveal her just as beautiful as when alive, but roasted to tender perfection! Served with greens and fresh fruits, she would be a sumptuous, mouth-watering feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
There is no standard recipe for the preparation of Kalua Long Pig. There are many variations. But, in general, you will need:
Begin by cleaning the beauty in fresh spring water. If a pot is available, she may be marinated in the pot. The water should not be too hot. Allow her to soak in a warm mixture of water, salt, oil and fruit juices for several hours. Once cleaned and ready, begin by oiling the beauty all over. Make sure every inch of luscious skin is thoroughly massaged with coconut oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pulverized Kava Root.
While preparing the beauty, dig a pit six feet long by three feet wide by three feet deep. Line the bottom of the pit with flammable sticks and large, heavy stones. Light the kindling and get a good fire roaring in the pit. Allow fire to burn until the stones are glowing red hot. Cover the hot stones with a thin layer of earth.
Lay Beauty out on a bed of large lotus leaves, topped with smaller Kava leaves. Soak and lightly salt the greens and cover beauty with wet greens. Garnish with cut or bruised fruit and baste her with fruit juice. Wrap leaves around beauty and tie with twine, vines or hemp rope. Place cocooned beauty into pit and cover with earth until pit is filled in.
Allow to bake in oven overnight. Steam will rise out of the covered pit, and the aroma will be your guide to the cooking progress. After several hours, the smell will become so delicious that it will be difficult to resist. Remove Baked Beauty from pit and open wrapping. Serve whole on a large platter, garnished with fruit and lotus flowers.
Don't forget to eat your greens!