On August 20th, the Philippine American Women’s Association of Louisiana (PAWAL) hosted a Kamayan Workshop at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, (SOFAB) at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd in New Orleans. Forty attendees learned how to prepare a table for a kamayan, a Filipino meal in which food is spread along a table and guests eat with their kamay (hands).
The workshop started with a greeting from PAWAL president Jessica Bayuga who introduced the goals of the workshop. Acclaimed Filipino Louisiana chef Cristina Quackenbush discussed the history of kamayan and the significance of the communal meal to Filipinos, before directing attendees to Arleen Gonzales who was sanitizing banana leaves over an open flame. Attendees gathered the sanitized banana leaves and placed them on their designated tables.
The hands-on workshop had attendees preparing a table for a kamayan by arranging Filipino dishes prepared by Bayuga, Quackenbush, Mia Estoloano-Levert, Arleen Gonzales, and Randy Gonzales. Attendees gathered bowls of food and distributed them along their tables. Food items included rice, inihaw na manok (grilled chicken skewers), inihaw na liempo (grilled pork belly), lumpia, halabos na hipon, (boiled shrimp), fresh fruit, ensaladang talong (roasted eggplant salad), pancit habhab (Lucban-style noodles), and adobong manok (chicken adobo).
Throughout the process, Quackenbush and Estolano-Levert provided practical advice on arranging the food and gave an overview of the individual dishes. Estolano-Levert explained how to configure your hand to gather rice and spoon it into your mouth. After their table was complete, attendees enjoyed a meal together.
As attendees enjoyed a creamy fruit cocktail dessert, Randy Gonzales, co-vice president of the Philippine Louisiana Historical Society, gave a brief talk about the foodways of the early Filipino settlers of Louisiana. He described the Filipino foods eaten at St. Malo, the first Filipino settlement in the United States, and Manila Village, once the largest shrimp-drying facility in the region.
The workshop was sponsored by the Bayou Culture Collaborative, which aims to help organizations pass cultural traditions to future generations.