Philippine Cuisine

Crossroads of Asia
Lingering Vinegar and Garlic

“There’s a trick if you want to know that it’s a Filipino an apartment belongs to; the garlic and vinegar can linger around a good long while.” — N.V.M. Golnzalez, The Bamboo Dancers [1]

There are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines. And its people speak some 87 languages.[2, 3]

Lumpia Shanghai
Fusion Food and the Greatest Appetizer

Can there be any common factors in the cuisine of such a far-flung and diverse people? There may be some common elements, but we have to look for them in the past.

The ancestors of today’s Filipinos spoke languages of the Malayo-Polynesian language family.  This far-flung language group stretches from Madagascar in the west to Easter Island in the east, with Hawaii in the middle.

These people were sea-farers, expert seamen and navigators.  Fish were an essential part of their diet, and seafood remains a key element of Philippine cuisine today. Continue reading

Edward Schafer and Spice Route Travelers — III

The Manila Galleon and the Third Route
Tomatoes, Chili Peppers and Beche de Mer

“Tang cookery sounds like modern Japanese cookery — plain food, sometimes raw, with few savory mixtures or interesting sauces.” — Edward Schafer

 

“The best of modern Chinese cooking developed in relatively modern times under the influence of foreign taste and customs, in particular those of India and the lands of the Desert and the Isles.” — Edward Schafer

Malayan on the Silk Road

Curly Haired Man, Malayan
Silk Road, Tang Dynasty

We sometimes forget how many of the foods we associate with Pacific Rim cuisines today were not native to much of the region in the oldest times and have migrated back and forth along the ancient trade routes. Continue reading

Lumpia – The Best Party Snack – Part II

Memories of Old Manila. Somehow Lumpia Shanghai has associations of Old Manila, the Spanish walled city of Intramuros and Binondo, the ancient Chinatown of Manila, where I first ate the dish. visiting our attorney in Manila, whose office was in the old Spanish walled city.

Our talk was a long one, and as lunch hour approached, he suggested we continue over lunch.  “We Filipinos like to cement relationships over meals,” he said.  “Let’s go to my favorite Chinese restaurant near here.”

The restaurant was in the old Chinese quarter of Binondo, near Intramuros. The streets in Intramuros and Binondo are so narrow, we went, not by care, but by horse carriage, the Filipino kalesa. The mid day sun was sweltering, as so often in Manila, and the humidity was off the scale. Continue reading