Mar 30, 2014

In defense of Filipino food

I love food. It does not only nourish but it speaks about culture. A kind of preference. Good food makes you recall your mother's cooking and in some occasions - like having the worst day - comfort food can save the day. With eating comes the memory of the eating. Food is even more fulfilling when you eat it with friends or your family.

So every time I hear or read about some bloggers writing about bad food in other places, I reserve the judgement because taste is linked with one's distinction, country, context. But it does not escape her/him from being a sensible commentator. This blogger is the latest. We can expect a deluge of comments in defense of Filipino food. Others go straight to the issue. Others target the writer. Others are apologetic. They have a point or two. They deserve to be pondered, at the least.

So what is my take about it? Filipino food deserves to be defended. But I defend it from a food and society perspective. The truth about Filipino food is it has been international ever since we trace its history. We got food from the Chinese, Malays, Indian, Spanish, Pacific islanders, American and not to mention our indigenous systems all concocting their influence on what we devour today.

This links to some likelihood that if someone criticizes Filipino food, we share the difficulty to defend it because there is no collective reference that best describes it. We do not have a national food identity that our neighboring countries enjoy like Japan and its sushi, Chinese and their peking duck, and Korea and its kimchi, to name a few.

So, if the challenge is to name which Filipino food best describes our national identity. I rather expect a most delicious debate. Some would suggest adobo. How about lechon? sinigang?balut? Of course, they all deserve in the pedestal and believe me, Filipinos are divided on this issue from the regional ways of cooking to ingredients to even who-is-cooking-type argument. This divisiveness is all the more adding to our crankiness that does not really help in defending our our food, our culture. On a personal note, I do not believe in a single standard for adobo, lechon, or sinigang. But we have yet to overcome this obstacle of making a stand on Filipino food. This stand has been there for centuries, that Filipino food is a global cuisine. We are just denying it.

Mar 1, 2014

Noon Cracker

Sunday High Noon. Perfect for some scribbling. But the canvas has been left for hours. This has been the most important writer’s block yet. Two weeks straight and the documents sit there, whispering to me for some care. I start but I have the hard time to retrace where I left off. And then this feeling – this stupid feeling - that I will connect this block to rest of my life. Which in some way it has but in most ways it does not always.

I imagine it as a leaf gripping on its twig. I either pray for a strong wind to blow me away or a warm sun to keep me still. This dilemma, strangely, seems to marvel me, unfailingly. I need to decide which prayer I will offer.

I suddenly found myself googling tips on overcoming writer’s block. They are all practical in most sense. Why, did I expect some magic rituals? Kahit papano naghanap ako, harhar. The best way is to get out of your computer screen for a while. Others suggest physical movements (jog, gym) as long as you have a notebook and pen to capture eureka moments in between. Some say you can write as soon as you wake up, in the first few hours when your mind is at its ‘theta’ stage bordering the dream and reality.

Writing this thesis has never been excruciating. But I need to do it even if no one wants to read it, anyway. The past months have been quite low. I have other ‘priorities’, I believe. And my instincts tell me so. Others remind me to just Choose. Yeah, I choose to do it with the barest minimum. That's why I bear this consequence.

Let us have a tweak of perspective. It can be quite exciting sometimes to feel a writer’s block. To my mind, other than the leaf on a twig. It's like a raging waterfall, or the buzzing of the city streets. And you are there in middle of the universe noise, the persistent longing for the sound of a crack. That crack, sometimes elusive, sometimes hotcakes, is what will carry you through the rhythm. Let's see again.

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