This, perhaps, is one of the most challenging things that I have to write – primarily, I do have a bit of bias towards Filipino food. I love Filipino food! And you gotta love your own, right? Secondly, you really need to amp up your courage for any not-so-nice feedback and how it will affect Filipino food’s reputation in general. And I’m not even talking about the fact that we do SELL food as our business, so yeah – kind of disparaging to say the least.
But here in Kapamilya, we tend to do things on a lighter note and we want to be as constructive and informative as possible at the same time (if not humorous at times). Hope you enjoy reading this three-part blog and my apologies for releasing this late because I have to double-check all information but please do note that this is editorial in nature and any opinion is welcome.
Okay, so I’ll address the elephant in the room right away – Filipino food is considered by a lot of people – travel bloggers, chefs, normal Joes like us – to be the worst cuisine in Asia. A few months back, an Australian professor from Cornell University named Tom Pepinsky, ranked our food last in his preferred cuisines in Southeast Asia. Indonesian writer Kate Walton also chimed in, even commenting “Filipino food is definitely the worst in the region.” and “Sorry but Filipino food is bland. I’ll choose spicy food over it any day,”. I don’t really mind of our food being ranked at the rock-bottom (heck, it’s just a preference anyway) but it definitely crushed a part of me. Not surprisingly, the Filipino online community went amok. This is just one instance about a negative review of our food, I tell you. If you happen to love Filipino food and you do more research on the same thing, you’ll be distraught.
I’m not gonna discuss about the ethics on giving food reviews or what we should do in times like these – For one thing, I admit that I don’t consider myself as a food journalist. Instead, since I harp about being constructive, I think it would be better to address the question as what gave them such an impression of our food other than their opinion. Is it the taste? The presentation? Is it anything else?
So what went wrong? First let’s talk about presentation. A lot of the tastiest of Filipino dishes do not have great visual appeal – even boring at times. After all, many Filipino dishes are stews or soups in a thin broth – think about tinola (chicken soup dish with chayote) or nilaga (pork or beef in light soup) and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Fish dishes like kinilaw (fish cooked in vinegar, usually tuna) or tuyo (dried fish) don’t look appetizing at all to most people. But don’t get me wrong – these dishes are great; more so if they are prepared well.
Filipino food in general is humble – they do not have the grandiose impression like other cuisines like Italian, French, even Japanese. I think you might get a little surprised that the best kaldereta or adobo can’t be found in restaurants, but in a common Filipino home (maybe throw in some plus points in sentimentality). The cooking process for most dishes are very straightforward; again I’ll use the adobo as the perfect example of this. You just throw in all ingredients in a pot and you just let it sit on fire until it’s done. That’s it. We don’t use a lot of cooking techniques, either. I remember we purchased an oven just for us to make a tray of baked macaroni or lasagna. Case in point, we don’t really have much use of that for everyday Filipino food. Ovens can be a little expensive, too. You see, Filipinos are very practical people that they’ll just use whatever that’s in front of them – more of it when I talk about taste on the next blog.
Let’s continue with this on the next installment of this series. If you love Filipino food just like I do, come and visit our stores in Rockdale, Marrickville (new location, by the way) and Fairfield! Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.