Kauai ohana luau: kalua pig!

We would gladly return to the islands more often if our circumstances allowed it, but a long overdue family reunion is what made this trip so important to put together. MotH has never experienced the evergrowing multitude that is my family, so to finally meet this aunty and that uncle and and that wild cousin who put the pedal to the metal when he and his wife drove through Italy – he was either stopped by the carabinieri or the polizia – well those sort of things are what being married into our ohana is all about. Thanks to my influence, the MotH, I might add, can understand and speak a small amount of pidgin english, so to have my immediate family members hear this haole talking local with an italian accent was a good experience in bi-cultural communication. It’s a case of sink or swim, and just for the record, they all thought he sounded pretty cool.

Memories of the making of kalua pig (a whole hog cooked in an underground pit) stretch back from so very long ago that what I recall is rather sketchy. There was the large and deep pit/imu in the ground; the hot lava rocks; the one-shot kill to the pig (sometimes two); the gutting and cleaning of the carcass; and the uncles and older cousins who worked hard to make it all happen. The prized moment was getting to taste some crispy pork skin after the imu was unearthed, and a few hours later the great feast would begin. Well these days the process is simplified whereas there is no hole in the ground to be dug. Instead, a large metal crate is placed above hot rocks on the ground, and within that crate will be the pig along with a few hot rocks plus a turkey or two. Everything is covered with foil, banana leaves, burlap sacks and lastly a heavy-duty plastic tarp. The edges of the tarp is then “sealed” by burying the perimeter in dirt, and the insulated heat is what cooks the porky goodness to perfection.

I’m so glad we were able to see the pig – or what became of it – being taken out. This was a first for MotH but to see my cousins in action once again takes me back to those days long ago when kalua pig meant it was done in the traditional imu manner.

Kalua pig #1
Removing the dirt from around the edges.

Kalua pig #2
Removing the tarp.

Kalua pig #3
Next up is removing burlap bags and banana leaves.

Kalua pig #4
Employing thick hooks, the crate is lifted off of the hot stones to a raised platform area.

Kalua pig #5
Pork cooked until it literally falls of the bone. Note the lava rock in one corner.

Kalua pig #6
After removing all bones, the kalua pork is scooped up into insulated coolers.

Kalua pig #7
The rocks are shoveled and set off to the side and stored until the next large party calls for kalua pig!

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