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Why is Philippine food not as popular as...?, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc. food
post Jul 6 2008, 05:54 AM
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I want this thread to be a point of discussion on why this is so. With millions of Filipinos worldwide, how come our cuisine lags behind other countries' in terms of familiarity? confused.gif

I also want to post this article I read earlier today:

Are We There Yet?

By Norma O. Chikiamco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:08:00 07/06/2008

MANILA, Philippines - I feel disheartened every time I hear people extol the virtues of Asian cuisine. Most likely they'd be referring to Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian or Chinese food; just as likely there won't be any mention of Filipino food. As if it isn't hard enough being called the Sad Sack of Asia, they have to snub our cuisine too. Not to be dramatic about it, but that's like pouring vinaigrette on our already festering wounds. As with our government, we can't seem to get our act together when it comes to making our food acceptable to others.

Is Filipino food meant to be loved by no one else but us?

Maybe it's because our food is indistinguishable. Being an aggregation of Spanish, Chinese, Malay, and American influences, it's neither East nor West, neither here nor there. Ours is probably the only country in Asia where American hamburger is seasoned with Chinese soy sauce, “Italian” spaghetti is cooked with hot dogs, and Chinese dishes are called by Spanish names (as in camaron rebosado, morisqueta tostada). And where else but in the Philippines can one find a dish called Arroz a la Cubana which doesn't exist at all in Cuba? All these alongside our own homegrown favorites such as dinuguan, sinigang, pakbet and tinola. Being accustomed to all these, we probably take them for granted. But a foreigner trying our cuisine for the first time would probably be scratching his head, wondering what culinary circus he has stumbled into.

And yet, this shouldn't really come as a surprise. Ours being a hybrid culture, it's but natural that our cuisine should be a mishmash too - part East, part West, and everything in between. Some of our dishes were learned from our colonizers, others from our ancestors and a few we invented ourselves, never mind that the country after which we named our invention may be totally unaware of the honor.

That is why it's so gratifying when, once in a rare while, we get a bit of unsolicited publicity. I almost jumped with pride and joy when I saw Martha Stewart featuring Filipino cuisine in her highly-rated TV shows. With Martha by his side, Filipino chef Romy Dorotan demonstrated how to cook lumpia and adobo. The doyen of domesticity even had some favorable words to say about our cuisine and pronounced Romy's cooking delicious.

Likewise, in an issue of Gourmet Magazine a few years ago, halo-halo was included among the featured Asian ices. And in the reality show “Fear Factor” (and later, in “The Amazing Race Asia”), one of the challenges contestants had to hurdle was eating balut, the dark, forbidding unhatched duck embryo that's a unique Filipino delicacy. As expected, it had some contestants gagging, and while this might have given Filipino cuisine some notoriety, it at least brought our much overlooked cuisine its 15 minutes of fame.

Maybe we should take our cue from the Americans. A few decades ago, American cuisine was being derided as consisting of nothing more than hamburgers and hot dogs. Even Julia Child herself once acknowledged that post-war American food was all about tuna casseroles and TV dinners. And yet look where it is now. In the '70s, Alice Waters and company launched a culinary movement advocating the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients - which California was more than ready to supply. Tex-Mex cuisine has come into its own as a major player in the culinary field, and American chef Thomas Keller has been hailed as one of this century's greatest living chefs. Today with even European chefs opening restaurants in major U.S. cities, American cuisine is certainly nothing to sneer at.

One factor that helped bring this about was the opening of more culinary schools in America. Suddenly cooking was no longer just a past time or an avocation. It has become a prestigious career, as respectable as going to law school or taking up medicine. In addition, with the food channel airing cooking shows round the clock, chefs have become superstars in their own right, not unlike the supermodels who've become the staple of tabloids.

With more and more young Filipinos now going into culinary arts, is our cuisine then next to be launched into international stardom? Is a renaissance of Filipino food soon in the offing?

I wish the answer could be “yes,” but I think it's more of “not yet.” True, there has been so much renewed interest in dining out, and options for the dinner crowd have expanded tremendously. And yet, what I see is young chefs opening Greek restaurants and French bistros, working in international ocean liners and developing recipes for American food imports. Few are those who have ventured into Filipino cuisine, or who've championed the cause of Pinoy food. Maybe it's because other endeavors are more lucrative. Maybe chefs feel (with reason, I believe) that their countrymen wouldn't pay restaurant prices for dishes they can cook at home. Maybe it's just a reflection of the diversity of our culture that our chefs can adapt so easily to foreign cooking.

Which brings us back to where we started: Filipino cuisine as the outsider looking in, the uninvited guest to the feast. Will we ever find ourselves the belle of the ball?

Recently someone said something about Filipino food being the best kept secret of Asia. And there perhaps we've found our squeeze, our rightful position in the global community. Filipino food as the ultimate culinary secret, a hidden treasure whose bewildering ways are understandable only to a chosen few. Never mind being snubbed and being obscure. While others are unaware of this last frontier, it's ours to savor and ours to enjoy. After all where else can one find pitisu, a derivative of the French petite choux, side by side with pancit Canton (which isn't really from Canton) or lumpiang Shanghai (which isn't really from Shanghai either).

It's circus cuisine all right, and we don't have to force others to buy tickets to the show. If it's Asia's best kept secret, let's just keep it that way. Let's conspire not to tell the rest of the world about it.

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post Feb 6 2012, 05:35 AM
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Posts in this topic
- redhotchili   Why is Philippine food not as popular as...?   Jul 6 2008, 05:54 AM
- - Pogpog   wasn't this discussed before? anyway, iliker...   Jul 6 2008, 06:16 AM
- - redhotchili   Omg, you should! Redhotchilis are the bomb...   Jul 7 2008, 06:19 AM
- - Suzuka00   I can't simply like bagoong and balot both are...   Jul 7 2008, 06:39 AM
|- - felltohell   QUOTE(Suzuka00 @ Jul 7 2008, 06:39 AM) 37...   Jul 7 2008, 07:11 AM
|- - Suzuka00   QUOTE(felltohell @ Jul 7 2008, 07:11 AM) ...   Jul 9 2008, 06:42 AM
|- - JMAC   QUOTE(felltohell @ Jul 7 2008, 08:11 AM) ...   Aug 22 2008, 01:35 PM
- - Hi Tone   I've read some travel blogs who say filipino f...   Jul 7 2008, 06:43 AM
- - orient   Filipino food is not promoted well compared to oth...   Aug 22 2008, 12:05 PM
- - islander   I have two neighbors that do spaghetti with hot do...   Aug 22 2008, 02:21 PM
|- - JMAC   QUOTE(islander @ Aug 22 2008, 03:21 PM) 3...   Aug 22 2008, 02:37 PM
- - hugo boss   Filipinos eat lots of inards and stuff like that, ...   Aug 22 2008, 04:36 PM
- - *promo   fu-k no! i like my kare-kare the way it is.....   Aug 22 2008, 06:26 PM
- - SoJealous   wth is wrong with some people here. "EW BALUT...   Aug 22 2008, 06:48 PM
|- - JMAC   QUOTE(SoJealous @ Aug 22 2008, 07:48 PM) ...   Aug 22 2008, 09:34 PM
|- - Metropolitan   QUOTE (SoJealous @ Aug 22 2008, 06:48 PM)...   Dec 17 2010, 08:59 AM
- - *promo   if you can eat out some pek-peks, u can eat a balu...   Aug 22 2008, 10:40 PM
- - NeoVxR   PMFJI this thread seems about selling..! why...   Aug 26 2008, 07:04 PM
- - lucky_me_noodle   I find most of the Filipino food boring and greasy...   Sep 5 2008, 12:46 AM
|- - Suzuka00   QUOTE(lucky_me_noodle @ Sep 5 2008, 12:46...   Sep 8 2008, 02:04 AM
- - martin_nuke   Pinakbet is not greasy and it's very healthy. ...   Sep 8 2008, 02:31 AM
|- - Suzuka00   QUOTE(martin_nuke @ Sep 8 2008, 02:31 AM)...   Sep 10 2008, 09:37 AM
- - diwata   The reason that Filipino food is not as popular is...   Oct 14 2008, 03:27 AM
- - redhorse   Just like a business, you might have the greatest ...   Oct 14 2008, 07:46 AM
- - Henry123   Theres not that many Filipino restaurants around o...   Oct 14 2008, 08:15 AM
- - hugo boss   seems like a lot of the foods are made with fatty ...   Aug 21 2009, 09:44 PM
|- - Hi Tone   QUOTE (hugo boss @ Aug 21 2009, 10:44 PM)...   Aug 22 2009, 02:45 PM
|- - Patton   QUOTE (hugo boss @ Aug 21 2009, 06:44 PM)...   Aug 24 2009, 07:45 AM
- - Jc2   There's a Filipino restaurant in an area heavi...   Aug 24 2009, 11:25 AM
|- - Hi Tone   QUOTE (Jc2 @ Aug 24 2009, 12:25 PM) There...   Aug 25 2009, 06:54 PM
|- - hugo boss   QUOTE (Jc2 @ Aug 24 2009, 08:25 AM) There...   Jan 27 2012, 04:25 PM
- - JonathanF2   I've never had Filipino food that tried to be ...   Aug 28 2009, 12:27 PM
- - blumage   Between the two cuisuines i do prefer the Chinese ...   Sep 17 2009, 04:15 PM
- - kermit_criminal   filipinos are busy being engineers and nurses to o...   Jan 6 2010, 03:11 AM
- - PanlasangPinoy   This is the question that I am also asking for the...   Feb 27 2010, 10:37 PM
- - KuyaRonnie   Our cuisine lacks presentations of some sort, you ...   Oct 30 2010, 02:24 PM
- - RangerBlue   I've noticed that too. I live in the West, and...   Oct 30 2010, 03:02 PM
|- - Metropolitan   QUOTE (RangerBlue @ Oct 30 2010, 03:02 PM...   Dec 17 2010, 09:09 AM
|- - filipinoy   QUOTE (Metropolitan @ Dec 17 2010, 07:09 ...   Dec 17 2010, 10:40 AM
|- - Soney   QUOTE (filipinoy @ Dec 17 2010, 10:40 AM)...   Dec 17 2010, 02:35 PM
- - sweet misery   From a family of cooks, siguro it has something to...   Dec 16 2010, 03:17 AM
- - martin_nuke   Culinary arts in not the priority of Filipinos at ...   Dec 16 2010, 03:23 AM
- - LazyAzian   I think it's because there hasn't been any...   Dec 16 2010, 11:33 PM
- - filipinoy   there are sooo many filipino restaurants in SoCal ...   Dec 17 2010, 07:41 AM
- - Confused43   If you google "Filipino restaurants" you...   Dec 17 2010, 03:24 PM
- - redhorse   IMO it's a combination of marketing and wester...   Dec 29 2010, 06:23 PM
|- - filipinoy   QUOTE (redhorse @ Dec 29 2010, 05:23 PM) ...   Dec 29 2010, 06:40 PM
- - redhorse   QUOTE (filipinoy @ Dec 30 2010, 03:40 AM)...   Dec 29 2010, 07:12 PM
- - filipinoy   kare-kare = curry-curry? haha   Dec 29 2010, 07:14 PM
- - pinoynacionalista   I have a Filipino restaurant and store right down ...   Feb 2 2012, 02:19 PM
- - butquaval   The programme sponsor is it is possible that the d...   Feb 6 2012, 05:35 AM
- - Edurrirete   When you plan a big excursion gry wyscigowe by m...   Feb 6 2012, 07:51 AM
- - Edurrirete   When you plan an important trip gry wyscigi by a...   Feb 6 2012, 08:03 AM
- - GummyBear0311   I lived here in the US and the non-Filipinos that ...   Jul 4 2012, 12:41 AM
|- - Jc2   QUOTE (GummyBear0311 @ Jul 4 2012, 01:41 ...   Jul 5 2012, 05:57 PM
- - martin_nuke   A historian told me that Adobo is a historic dish ...   Jul 5 2012, 08:06 PM
|- - Prau123   QUOTE (martin_nuke @ Jul 5 2012, 09:06 PM...   Jul 6 2012, 11:29 PM
- - martin_nuke   I also think that Sisig is also an original Philip...   Jul 9 2012, 12:56 AM
- - Prau123   QUOTE (martin_nuke @ Jul 9 2012, 01:56 AM...   Jul 11 2012, 02:18 AM

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