To Eat or not to Eat?: The hidden messages in "Kain Tayo": a ritual offer to share food.

Bel S. Castro

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Assistant Dean, College of Hospitality, Enderun Colleges

 

KEYWORDS

 

Food-sharing, food, culture, politeness, Filipino culture, Filipino tradition, Philippines

 

ABSTRACT

 

In the Philippines, the routine polite offer to share food, “Kain Tayo!”(Let's eat!) is typically met with a polite refusal, which may or may not be followed with a measure of insistence from the person offering, at which point, the receiver is faced with a food sharing decision—to accept or not to accept—and with it, its social consequences. With most of the existing research focused on commensality or the act of food sharing or food transfer, this paper draws attention to the event that occurs prior to the food transfer, that is, the food sharing offer (on the part of the speaker) and the food sharing decision (on the part of the hearer) and show how the food sharing decision, "to eat or not to eat" is the event which both defines and constructs the relationship. By using ideas formed by politeness theorists, chiefly Goffman, Brown and Levinson, as thinking tools, this paper calls for a closer analysis of the role and nature of the food offering ritual and the pursuit of its study beyond just reciprocity and intimacy, to include other issues such as  power, social distance and the concepts of self-image or “face”.

Enderun Colleges Scholarly Review, Volume 2, Issue 1.

Category: Culinary , Gen. Ed. , Tourism