Fiesta, as we call it locally, is a religious celebration first and a food feast next. In a small community, every household prepares food for visitors. After the mass, people take the rounds to sample anything offered by hosts, much like a smorgasbord in a larger scale.
Once, I was pulled away from my field work by a friend to visit the town fiesta. He did emphasize that we would be there because of the free food.
I was reluctant at first due mainly to my aversion of eating at strangers’ houses. I could eat anywhere, even on the grass, as long as I was in my own turf.
After the fourth house, I was stuffed. I did manage to make my face shameless even though I could see the dagger looks of strangers who owned the houses we visited. I felt like a genuine freeloader.
On the contrary, my friend was enjoying himself. He did not care if people stared at his paper plate or when he came back for a second serving. He was an eating machine.
“Can we go home now?” I asked nearly burping in front of a beautiful lass. “I can’t take it anymore.”
“What’s the rush? I am not even halfway through.”
I thought my friend was joking. But I guess he was not because of the way he attacked the mountain-like contents of his plate. He was one hungry individual.
“You ate double of what I had,” I said incredulously, “and you say you’re still famished.”
He did not answer: his mouth was busy.
“I won’t go any further. This is my last stop.” I had to put my foot down so I could be spared from more embarrassment.
“One last house and we’re done,” he promised, raising his hand as if swearing an oath.
Of course, he broke his promise. We finished all the houses down the road.
When I thought he was already bloated, I was astounded by his next remark.
“Let’s go,” he said, having difficulty walking. “It’s nearly 12 noon. I don’t want to be late for lunch.”