We wish we could take credit for that pun in our post name, but it's the book title of nomadic chef and fellow Filipina Yana Gilbuena. We had the pleasure of attending one of her pop up KAMAYAN feasts in collaboration with Philly's own resto with the ono grinds Poi Dog. And it was quite a night.
Alright, before we go any further, let's clarify what a KAMAYAN is. Quite literally it translates to "by hand" in Tagalog, the prominent language of the Philippines. Yes, it is a meal eaten with no forks (see full circle here) or other utensils, but it also is served family-style on top of banana leaves. You serve yourself and are able to craft the perfect bite at your fingertips. See "eating by hand" isn't weird in Filipino culture. Historically speaking, if no one ever came to the Philippines and brought over the "domesticated" way of eating, we would still be eating with our hands. It's more natural. More tactile. And it's rooted within all of us. As children, we all ate with our hands. Discovering textures, learning dexterity. With my hands, I ate rice and longanisa (a sweet sausage) for breakfast and for dinner: Daing ng Bangus (fried milkfish) with rice (there's a theme) and some sort of sasawan (dipping sauce). Even sometimes to the questionable eye of my parents. I didn't think anything of it. To be honest, some foods are just easier to eat with your hands than fussing around with a fork and spoon.
But eating by hand in a public, HELL TO THE NO. Even Western finger foods like ribs, wings, and crabs need to be eaten in the privacy of my own home. I don't know where the switch in me turns on and off, but if I look deep, I know some of it is rooted in the familiar story of a culture clash that is prominent in fellow first generation children. When I was younger, I read "Fat Kid Rules the World". In that book, the main character, an overweight high school boy, was always conscious of the way he ate. But this punk rock kid who GNF, Curt, pointed out that everyone eats weird. There's no hiding it. Try as you may, no one looks cute when they're eating. And it's true. So why do we put our guards up and try to look all dignified while we eat. The way we eat doesn't matter, it's the food.
...and filipino food is bomb.com
When I heard about the new wave of Filipino chefs bringing the foods I grew up on to the modern scene...STOKED doesn't give my feelings justice. A part of me thinks "freedom" or "a sigh of relief" or maybe a "seen"-ness I haven't experienced in that foodie space. It wasn't "validation", moreso an excitement that others can enjoy the foods of my childhood. It's weird ownership and pride. Honestly, writing this post is kinda like therapy. Realizing the narratives of what I thought were two opposing sides (eastern and western) didn't have to stay in their pretty little boxes. That both sides of the coin can co-exist with one another. Kamayan is more than just eating with your hands. It's community. It's family.
WOAH THAT GOT A BIT DEEP AND HEAVY.
SO HERE'S A LITTLE BREATHER. We all love a good neon sign right?
okay back to the
salo series x poi dog
A FILIPINO HAWAIIAN kamayan
Firstly I just want to say thank you for all the people who put this together. It brought my back to my roots and definitely filled a void that I didn't realize need filling. The night was a great way to celebrate my dad's birthday (older gen meets new gen). And above all else, it was beyond delicious. From the tasty cocktails all the way to the crumbly goodness that was the polvoron made with moonshine (get I put a catering order for that....honestly SO GOOD). The Sinigang Poke was by far my favorite and definitely a dish I want to try re-creating at home for afternoon snack. // KATRINA
I haven't eaten a full meal with my hands since probably childhood. There were ZERO utensils on the table. Anyone that knows me, knows I hate being sticky or just messy in general. At first I thought this idea of banana leaves on the table with food on it would trigger my OCD in the worst say. Much to my surprise, this meal had an opposite effect. I felt ver at east, comfortable, and felt more connected to the group of strangers around us at the table.
The food was unreal. All of it was an incredibly delicious pairing of Hawaiian and Filipino cuisine. My personal favorites were the garlic rice and the lechon (pork belly with crispy skin).
My first experience with kamayan was incredibly positive. It's a way to connect with friends and family over food in a more intimate way. I highly recommend everyone try to experience it at least once in your life! // JUSTIN
Atlantic Salmon / Tamarind / Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes / Red Onion / Green Pepper / Puffed Rice
"Dried" Short Rib / Calamansi / Shoyu / Alaea Salt / Garlic
HAPA HAWAIIAN CHICKEN
Chicken Two Ways: Huli Huli & Inasal
LECHON KAWALI WITH DINUGUAN SAUCE
Crispy Pork Belly / Blood Sauce
GARLIC COCONUT FURIKAKE RICE
MACADEMIA MOONSHINE POLVORON WITH CHARRED COCONUT
Belle Isle Moonshine Wheat Cakes
Belle Isle Grapefruit / Calamansi / Tamarind / Cinnamon / San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa
Belle Isle Honey Habanero / Lime / Coconut Two Ways / Li Hing Rim
A little birdie told me a bartender at 1 Tippling Place is responsible for the evening's cocktails. Just in case you had FOMO or anything.
Interested in experiencing your own NO FORK FEAST?? Perla on Passyunk hosts them every Wednesday and Sunday evening that we've been meaning to hit up. Or more fun, host one yourself!! The dog days of summer are hopefully coming to a close, so backyard gatherings with friends and food sound like an ideal situation. Kamayan dinners don't necessarily have to involve Filipino food. Just eating with your hands ("Kamay" is Tagalog for "hands" by the way) and spending time with your community. Just make sure you have a wash bowl handy (hehe) and some towels close by.