My old friends were visiting Marist for alumni weekend and invited me along with others to have a huge dinner together like the good old days. They mentioned that it was going to be Filipino food, so I automatically knew we were going to Windy's or in other words, The Hyde Park Oriental Market.
This place was our go-to Asian store and Filipino food hot spot. What I didn't know was that we were going to eat a special kind of Filipino cuisine—Kamayan.
Kamayan is a Filipino-style feast where you have a blanket of rice resting on leaves, topped with all types of foods such as chicken adobo, seafood, fried sardines, lumpia, pork, sausage, noodles, etc. Also to my surprise, it's a feast you eat with only your hands.
Windy, the store owner, closed her entire store early for us and had a whole table of food prepared. I walked in and thought it was the most amazing table of food I've ever seen.
I was a little reserved at first when I realized we'd all be eating from the same food with our hands. The worry popped in my head again when people started to pass shrimp over from person to person to me.But it didn't stop me from enjoying my meal because I wanted to embrace the cultural experience. It also wasn't much of a concern since everyone had their own section to pick from, which meant that you rarely had to overlap into someone else's territory.
There's a sense of community and family that's created when you're all gathered at a table eating this way, especially because there are times when your hands do meet in the middle.
Eating with your hands is a lot of fun and a grounding experience. I'd recommend everyone to give it a try but make sure to wash up first. The biggest struggle I had was eating the chicken adobo because of the curry if you can imagine what that must've felt like.
Overall, the food was amazing. Everything was cooked thoroughly, the different flavors complemented each other even though they were different styles of dishes. The rice was slightly baked, the seafood was seasoned and cooked beautifully, and the chicken adobo was definitely on point.
We had a total of 12 people working on the feast, some of whom pride themselves on being pro at eating humongous portions of food, yet we couldn't finish it all. My stomach was full and happy.