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.


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