redefining filipino food

when i went home to the province last weekend, i had to go to the bus terminal in Cubao as usual. with a brain still anaesthetized by lack of sleep because i woke up so early, i tried to decide which side of the bus i should sit to avoid the sun. heading north, i should take the bus’ leftmost row of seats.

having been seated, i listened to my stomach and it said it was still full (yeah, my stomach and i speak a secret language!). even if those quail egg- and peanut vendors were going up and down the aisle of the bus, i forced myself not to buy anything. of course, my salivary glands were talking about a different thing compared to what my tummy was telling me. 😛

anyway, to get some distraction, i opted to buy a broadsheet. which, fortunately, included a Sunday Magazine which featured an article by Margaux Salcedo on ‘Kulinarya’, a book which seeks to define what Filipino food is. Well, she definitely starts it correctly by asking the same question — what IS Filipino food anyway?

After much debating and argumentation (none that would make a scientist happy though), it was definitely seen to be simply Mom’s good ol’ cooking! And I couldn’t agree more! This IS and what has always been our food. It’s that monggo at home that no other carinderia can match. It’s the kare-kare that is nutty and bland but magically turns into a festival of flavors when you add bagoong into the picture. and not just any kind of bagoong, it’s the one that mom mixes up and adds that secret ingredient — banana ketchup!

and that’s just it! a pinoy would say “oooohhh! you’re mom adds that? my mom does this…” and so on. but not a foreigner (in my opinion). they would say, “you put what in the _______? that’s not ______ anymore then!” and then you make up a name for this ‘new’ dish you just made. 😛

well, the review of ‘Kulinarya’ definitely intrigued me as they have noticed that dinuguan was not included into the cookbook-slash-guide. as she says on her article:

Also, in desiring to present Filipino food to the world and in an attempt to meet global standards, the kamayan culture was dispensed with in this book. As foreigners might complain that Filipino food is unhealthy, the authors offer healthier options. I did not find a recipe for dinuguan (blood stew), which some foreigners might shudder at. So the compromise extended to what the authors believe is acceptable to a worldwide audience, making the shout to eat proudly a few decibels softer.*

I don’t know about you but ‘making the shout to eat proudly a few decibels softer’ strikes me as too appeasing to the authors. it’s not a few decibels softer. but then again, the measure is perspective and there’s no clear delineation of scale for ‘a few decibels’ hence i would say from a previous 10dB to 2dB, i’d still say 8dB is few. (ugh! that was awful!) but i still say this ‘definition’ or ‘setting of a standard/guide’ for Filipino food has undone itself by conforming to foreign tastes.

dinuguan is Filipino. definitely.

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* excerpt from article by Margaux Salcedo

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6 Comments

  1. haha, whenever i go to our province i also choose a sit to avoid the sun.
    anyway talking about dinuguan, i agree with you, it is so pinoy but i choose where to buy dinuguan, you know what i mean.
    happy week end

    hahaha… i guess you don’t buy dinuguan next to the hospital or a blood bank huh? LOL 😛

  2. Hmmm, there’s this bulalo-an (beef-bone and ribs stew) in Marbel (from where i originally came from) tha is located near a what – a funeral home (punerarya), gross as it may seem, but they do serve the best bulalo in Marbel.

    nyahay!!! sabagay, nasa utak lang yan ng tao. (why doesn’t my response seem to be all that comforting? :P)

  3. I don’t eat dinuguan, for you-know-what reason, and because it was never cooked at home. But I second the motion. Filipino food is Filipino food. As is, where is. Should not conform to any other taste.

    amen, sister!

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