Hosting has always been my dream. hand in hand eating as an adult. Kamayan is a traditional way of eating for Filipinos in the homeland and beyond. In this tradition, friends and family get together and share an enormous meal together – literally Share a dish, because there is no separate coating. Instead, banana leaves are laid out to cover the table where the grilled protein and crop, rice, corn, tropical fruit and salted egg salad are placed. The best part is that we use our bare hands to attend the feast (kamam means “hand” or “to use one’s hands” in Tagalog). I felt more present as our bodies became more involved in receiving food.
I finally chose a night to host a kamam event at my house with a few good friends, and as that fateful day approached, I found the preparation process to be as common as the banquet. Aldwyn brought steamed banana leaves from her backyard. Carl and Toni brought the drinks. After putting together every delicious thing, we looked at the generous meal that didn’t exceed the next $50 and took deep breaths and savored the delicious moment. At the beginning, I prayed to thank the Universe for giving us the opportunity to preserve the traditions of our ancestors with our bare hands. We then tasted and fed – in every possible sense.
Our night at Kamayan instantly became the main memory of my year and from there I wondered, how did I forget the refreshing power and privacy of sharing a meal? For years, I have certainly paid attention to the worrisome sociopolitical issues surrounding food, such as global threats to food security, eating disorders, fear of obesity and body shame, the intersection of racism and dietary culture, and unethical food production and distribution. These structural and social realities have distorted our relationships with food and disconnected us from food’s medicinal properties and sacred presence in our lives and relationships. So how do we remind ourselves of the healing elements of food, especially in our social relationships?
There has been a constant presence of food superstitions since ancient times. This means throwing uncooked rice grains at weddings for wealth, vamps or ghost walk away or break a wishbone. Somehow, throughout history and cultures, people have had an intuitive sense of the power of food. One of my friends I invited for the Kamayan night, Carl Cervantes, professor and creator of the Filipino psychospiritual project Sikodiwa, reminded me of an old Filipino belief. understanding (conceiving). When a pregnant person has certain food cravings during the first trimester, it is believed that the characteristics of the food they crave will have an impact on the future personality of their unborn child. For example, Toni (another friend at my kamaya banquet) shared that her mother craved fruit salad when she was pregnant with him. Therefore, Toni became an “all-rounder” in school, as the fruit salad contains a variety of ingredients, making Toni versatile with a variety of skills. While the research is inconclusive, this superstition reveals our ancestors’ understanding of our interdependence. Even in the womb, we are irreversibly connected through food.
Today, these spiritual ideas are likely to cause many to be skeptical. The food industries are so disconnected from the ancient wonders and magical practice of food sharing. This is evident in the industry’s abusive work environments and inaccessibility across a wide spectrum, from the lack of access to food to the often ostentatious language and culture of food elitism and critics. stories like Menu Show how the industry organizes world-renowned eating experiences exclusive to less than 1% of the world. Food reflects who and where we are in our society, and perhaps more importantly, the sharp divisions within it.
When capitalism and colonialism disengage us, we can return and aim to reconnect. Ayu Sutriasa, in her article “A Portal as Food — To Myself” writes convincingly about the desire to improve one’s relationship with food in the midst of food colonization. She then beautifully describes a crucial step in reconnecting with her roots through cooking. Ayu cooked Indonesian food as loving, meditative acts of incarnation and remembrance – in the process respecting her roots and the power of the senses. “Eating is a sensory experience that not only satisfies our senses of smell and taste, but also stimulates our touch, our spirit, and our bond with one another,” she writes. This is what it means to go back: to take root again and remember after being brutally smashed by capitalism and colonization.
Similarly, mainstream storytelling shows the same invitation as an antidote to the loss of vitality in toxic food industry environments: to go back to why the chief hero started cooking in the first place. The story almost always ends with simple, childhood meals being cooked. ratatouillesandwiches Bearand spoiler alert, a cheeseburger Menu. The medicine would come back.
No wonder the kamam dinner I shared with Aldwyn, Carl, and Toni was so healing to me. Together, we went back to a Filipino tradition as we chatted about the spirituality and superstitions that deepen our conversations and our bonds with one another and with our ancestors. There was even an active incarnation: We inhaled every taste, spicy and salty, with our hands. We enjoyed a deeper, more delicious intimacy. We were enchanted and messy, laughing from our very full and happy tummies.
is a psychotherapist, organizer and artist. His work focuses on anti-colonial approaches and practices in mental health. She also focuses on anti-slavery organization on a global scale. You can find most of her work on her official website www.gabestorres.com and on social media platforms including Instagram.