Friday, July 2, 2010

Cooking up Filipino

After years of living abroad, I still feel the great pull of home. I feel it in my guts and every fiber of my being longed for that sweet smell of hot pandesal in the break of dawn. The soothing sound of chicken crow in the morning. And the smell of my dad's coffee in the kitchen mixed with the smell of his cigarette. As I watched Anthony Bourdain in one episode where he chooses Philippines in his next travel, it made me wonder what to expect on this episode. Will I be familiar with what kind of foods he is going to eat and will I be familiar to the places he is going to visit? Attentively I watched skeptical of the tour guide he is going to meet. I was praying that it would be someone who is much more in-touch with his Filipino heritage than those who are as unfamiliar with the type of food to present. But lucky, the tour guide was a very educated and obviously not only very familiar with our type of food but had grasp of the history of how it came to be as well. Which makes me wonder of my own familiarity. I just know adobo either pork or chicken and thats about it. It turns out, each of our region has their own way of cooking adobo. Whether its chicken, pork or even seafood adobo. "As long as you know the basic ingredients of an adobo, you can do just about anything with it," says the tour guide. Which is exactly true, when you look at it closely. I have to honestly admit, am a novice when it comes to cooking. I think my mom had that one regret when I first got married, admitted to the bunch of our guest that she never taught me to be a cook (or perhaps domesticated is her polite words). And that Loi should forgive me if I don't fit the "housewife" he expect me to be. That's my mom! Taking the blame for not making me a person I am suppose to be. But let me assure her right now that after those long years (I should say very long years) I started to learn how to cook and loved it in a way. For one thing, I have to thank my husband for that since he made it easy for me. Never pressuring me into doing things I would regret later specifically about cooking. I know his mom is a great cook, she is Kapampangan and I don't have any aspiration to compete with her but atleast have the decency to cook for him a meal or two. I started with simple fried dishes. Fried rice which are not bad at all but the fried fish is a disaster. Suffice to say, I am done with frying. Thankfully, my husband would eat anything in support to my ever need to please him with my cooking. I learned through trial and error then I moved up to a little more complicated ones. Pasta like spaghetti, lasagna and of course my ever famous carbonara. Its a long shot to being a great cook but I am trying my best. My efforts is always rewarded by praises from my husband and friends. But since living abroad, I have tried making Filipino dishes just because I have longed desired to eat home cooked meals. Thus we come to the show Anthony Bourdain. The question that seems to linger in my mind (and Anthony's) is that where does the Filipino taste originated. We have diffirent region who interprets their own versions of adobo. Chicken. Pork. Shrimp. And even vegetables. The answer is that it depends on where you are at the time. We have seven thousand island, we have different ways to interpret, answers and sees ideas. We are regionalistic first before being nationalistic. For example, one is a Kapampangan first then a Filipino second. Which is understandable being a clutter of small islands. But that does not mean we are a Filipino less. So we are back to the same question, where does the Filipino taste originated? I believe it is originated to all the occupation years from the Spaniards which lasted for five hundred years. The Americans who later gave us our independence. The Japanese and Chinese who gave us the Asian flavor of spices. And everyone else who found Philippines as a good place to retire and find their own secret paradise in the almost untouched remote islands. So how do we define the Filipino taste? For me, it is the pride, warmth and love the cook put into every meal served, wherever a Filipino may be.

1 comment:

  1. First of all Dio, wow, ang sarap ng mga nasa picture!!! *drool* Ok, now that I've wiped up my drool...hehehe...I think it's a natural thing for any transplant in any country to have a soft spot and longing for their home country's cuisine. And somehow, even if you somehow get to cook a native dish in your adapted country it just never really tastes the same. As to the question of where Filipino taste came from, where/what are its origins? I would say it is a mixture of all the past influences that have entered the Filipino culture - those that are truly Asian and those that are from the Western cultures that made the most impression. What I wish is that someday, here in the US, Filipino cuisine will become as known, if not as common, as Italian, Chinese and other international cuisines.