In Filipino Cuisine class yesterday I had a student from Talisay Batangas who was in-charge of the menu. We were doing “sinaing na tulingan” ( fish cooked in water with a souring agent) a hard core and authentic Batangas dish. She told me that her grandmother taught her to twist and pull the fish tail out before cooking. Along with the tail came a tiny sack which could at times be poisonous. I was so amazed to learn something new!
FILIPINO CUISINE is a course that is offered to the seniors in the culinary program. It runs for one term (14 weeks) and is considered a major subject. I was tasked to work on the FILIPINO CUISINE curriculum back in 2003, honestly I did not know how or where to begin.
I am a “martial law” baby and grew up in a decade were colonial mentally was very strong. I grew up with Sesame Street and English was our first language. In fact when we spoke Tagalog in class we were charged one peso for every sentence. In my teenage years the very first McDonald’s store opened ushering in the fast food generation. We embraced all things western and American! Household Filipino food was
shunned as ordinary. I was at a loss!
Culinary schools teach us French foundations, but we are Asian, and we are Filipino. Our ingredients and techniques are different. I went to the library and noticed we had rows of books on French, International and Asian Cuisine. Disappointingly books on Filipino Cuisine were very limited. Anyway I had to confer with the other chefs and we agreed to do a “regional approach”, hence Filipino Cuisine was classified as a major subject. A lot of work was needed to preserve and promote our culinary heritage. Our advocacy was to start inside the classroom. Travel and immersion in the different provinces for research was essential.
I also recommend “Kulinarya” as a good teaching reference. The gala dinner and book launch of “Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine” was held at the Peninsula Manila. That evening I was surrounded by people who shared the same sentiments and passion for the Filipino food movement. The book was produced by Asia Society Philippines Foundation with chairwoman Ms. Doris Magsaysay Ho. The project was done in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, San Miguel Purefoods, and Del Monte Philippines. Recipes are a collaboration between Chefs Myrna Segismundo, Glenda Barreto, Jessie Sincioco, Maragrita Fores, Claude Tayag, and Conrad Culalang. It was edited by Ms. Michaela Fenix, styled by Ige Ramos, Katrina Bolasco and photography by Neal Oshima. Guest of honor was DOT Secretary Ace Dorano.
The dinner menu was lechon, tinolang manok served inside a green papaya boat, adobong manok, pinaputok na isda, and pinakbet. Dessert was buko pandan, sapin sapin and turon. In Filipino we call events like this a giant “salo-salo”. The dinner began with a “parada ng lechon”, then a serenade of songs like “bahay kubo”, then speeches from the different chefs and key people involved in the project.