The ‘shame piece’

The last slice of pizza no one will touch.

The last slice of pizza no one will touch.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Also known as the “last piece of anything.”

In Philippine culture, it is usually the last piece of food left on a plate. Filipinos are reluctant to touch that piece for fear they would be seen as ‘matakaw’ (greedy) or ‘gutom na gutom’ (overly hungry). Hence, that last slice of Bibingka or last piece of Adobo chicken on a tray will just sit there and remain uneaten. When all the guests have left, maybe the host will finally get to eat it so there is no more ‘tira’ (leftovers).

“Let me tell you that in any gathering, a family meal or a party, perhaps, when they serve the chicken or the pizza or the cassava cake, Pinoys will swoop down and take their piece. Except for the last one,” noted Deputy Consul General Kerwin Tate in keynoting the launch of Filipino Restaurant Week from May 14 to 26 at the Philippine Center. “No one will touch it. That’s the shame piece.”

Philippine tradition passed down from our elders to our children regards the shame piece as something observed out of a sense of consideration for a guest who may be hungrier or one arriving late to a party. It will leave them with the thought that there will always be food for them.

“I always thought it was a silly tradition. If you’re still hungry, why not just take it?” wondered Tate. Until his mother explained it to him: “Anak, it’s not that everybody is full – it’s an act of consideration. Maybe someone is hungrier than you. Or perhaps someone, a late guest, will appear, and you save something for them.”

That’s how the shame piece came to be a venerable tradition among Filipinos, who honor it and make it a part of their celebration through food.

“The shame piece is not a negative thing, but a beautiful act,” he said. “It’s not just pretension, or ‘pakitang-tao.’ It’s a community agreeing, non-verbally, that we have an obligation to make sure that we control ourselves, for the sake of others who might be coming along later, or who are, right now, hungrier than we are.”

Filipino Restaurant Weeks runs from May 14 to 26 with two dozen restaurants participating: FlipSigi, Grill 21, Ibis Eats, Tsismis, Jeepney, Kabisera Kape, Kuma Inn, Maharlika, Mighty Bowl, Mountain Province, Sisig City Food Truck, Philam Kusina, Purple Yam, Swell Dive, Tama, Talde, Tito Rad’s Grill & Restaurant, Ugly Kitchen, La Parilla de Manila, Max’s, Noodle Fan, Pinoy Filipino Restaurant, and Perla.

© The FilAm 2018

Deputy Consul General Kerwin Tate: ‘It is a beautiful act.’  Photo by Lambert Parong/ FAPCNY

Deputy Consul General Kerwin Tate: ‘It is a beautiful act.’ Photo by Lambert Parong/ FAPCNY

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