Filipino food to the world

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
August 31, 2011

Upholding Philippine cuisine to a world that has taken to Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and even Korean foods has been an elusive quest to many a Filipino foodie. Filipino food boasts of a rich heritage of Malay, Indonesian, Spanish, Chinese and even American influences. With the passage of all these culinary influences, Filipino food has emerged with a quality all of its own and no Filipino – and foreigner
who has taken to Philippine cuisine by affinity or just for the sheer love of it – will ever displace their love for adobo (pork and chicken dish), sinigang (sour soup), pansit (noodle dish) and minatamis (sweets).

Even Filipinos who have traveled the world take pride in the sumptuous linamnam (savory) flavors that only Filipino food has, firm in the belief that Filipino food has a flavor profile that no other cuisine, no matter how sophisticated, possesses. To bring Filipino cuisine to the same forefront
that other Asian cuisines have attained remains a dream for many a Filipino foodie.

To this end, the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) collaborate on the new program Kulinarya Short Courses. Kulinarya is a component of the Cultural Tourism Program of the DoT, which is a tourism product that seeks to introduce and promote Philippine flavors to the local and international culinary scenes.

This program is part of CCA, Manila’s mission to promote Filipino cuisine in the Asian and International markets and in line with the Kulinarya Program of the Department of Tourism,” said chef Gigi Angkaw, Continuing Education Program manager of CCA, Manila. “The program is designed for domestic and international tourists who would like to experience and learn Filipino cuisine.”

The Kulinarya Short Courses will be conducted in CCA Farmer’s Market every second Friday of each month, for half day. There will be a minimum of five persons and a maximum of 15 participants per session.

“The program will start with a tour of Farmer’s Market for familiarization of Philippine ingredients. Next is a hands-on cooking demonstration where every participant will have his own work station guided by chef instructors.The fun part of food tasting and sumptuous lunch follows,” said Angkaw.

The Farmer’s Market Tour opens up a world of Filipino ingredients to the “market tourist” as the CCA chef walks the vegetable aisles to showcase native vegetables, highlighting provincial finds like pako (edible young fern), lato (grape seaweeds), luyang dilaw(turmeric), etc.

The seafood aisles is a sight to behold with shrimp and large crabs galore,fresh clams, mussels, bamboo shells and scallops, all live and kicking. A walk deeper into the middle of the market brings you to booths showcasing fresh tuna as big as sharks, laid on blocks of ice, ready to be cut for sashimi; fresh pink salmon heads headed for soup cauldrons; real maya-maya (red snapper)set apart to distinguish them from maya-maya wannabees; and mackarels of all sizes and shapes.

The market tour is not complete without passing through the meat aisles where offals are being offered for making Filipino delicacies. Sides of beef and pork hang on large hooks side by side with hamonado longganisa (sweet sausages) and garlic sausages.

The poultry section is another aisle altogether that features native free-range chickens. Getting a chicken deboned for a relleno (stuffed boneless chicken) is a service they provide at the Farmer’s Market, along with grinding spiced up meat and stuffing it in fresh casings.

And for a whiff of fresh aromas after a tour of raw meats, the fruit section displays the bounties of the tropical fruit farms of the Philippines: strawberries and passion fruits from Baguio; pomelo from Davao; durian from Cagayan de Oro; Quenne Anne pineapples from Ormoc; lansones from Camiguin; sweet mangoes from Zambales, Pangasinan and Cebu; and bananas from just about from everywhere.

Having a CCA chef explain the way through the market and revealing how to cook this and that ingredient as one passes through the market is a rich culinary treat that opens one’s eyes to the wonders of Philippine cuisine. Getting to cook alongside a CCA chef is another enriching culinary experience to widen one’s understanding of the staple dishes of Filipino cuisine.

Even an experienced kusinera(cook) has a thing or two to learn. Adobo is not just adobo in this short course. The adobo presented is the adobo that epitomizes the Filipino adobo as it goes through several processes of cooking – marinating, stewing then frying.

Noodle tricks are another thing to learn in the sotanghon guisado(sauteed rice noodles) demonstration. Also achieving the balance of saltiness and sourness in a sinigang is another knack that requires mastery. And making a sweet enough but not to sweet smooth maja con mais (corn pudding cum flan) is another culinary technique in the offing at the DOTCCA Kulinarya Short Courses.

The introduction of these Filipino favorites to the world and presenting them in a homestyle yet creative way opens up the culinary world to appreciate the wonders of Philippine cuisine.

For more information, call CCA, Manila at 426-4840/41; e-mail; .

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