Thursday, February 25, 2010

Filipino cooking has yet to become mainstream -

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Interesting that the previous post was about foodie fun adventures at Andre Guerrero's Oinkster and that this morning, a huge handful of my friends posted this LA Times article up about Pilipino Cuisine and how it hasn't hit mainstream yet.

And again, the overall feeling of why it hasn't been pushed to the mainstream is that we are so diverse, so spread out, and don't have core dishes to define Filipino Cuisine.

Now I kinda get that. Filipino cuisine is based on home-cooked meals. it's as unique to each of us as our last names. depending on the region and our families' interpretation on a dish, we develop a taste for some dishes and styles but not for others. we always base our judgement on what good filipino food is on the basis if it reminds us of our parents' cooking.

and i have heard so many times that the reason why a filipino wouldn't try a filipino restaurant because they get good food at home. why should they eat somewhere else?

my friends and i would go to this filipino vegetarian spot in el segundo because having vegetarian filipino food was almost an oxymoron in our culture. so to try my culture's dishes with soy and tempeh was definitely a new and exciting experience.

but why should we not push that cuisine out on the mainstream? one of the arguements is that because it hasn't assimilated enough.


all we do is assimilate to survive. i am really getting tired of the idea of that only because we then disappear in the masses. who the hell wants to be walking ghosts in our own city? shit. not i.

the article is making me think that we are just too lazy to even try to find the innovation in our cuisine. we already assume that it wouldn't work because it isn't "pretty" food. really? i've seen some stews and sauces in other cuisines that do not look "pretty" but i don't see that being an issue.

and if we are so diverse in dishes, why doesn't chefs, artists in their culinary craft, research ways to make it in gourmet standards.

what it boils down to is marketability? if it is able to make a lucrative dollar?

i dunno. i think it is all bullshit.

Here are some quotes of what my friends say:
Joel: man, "foodie" culture is out of hand for me. there are food shortages around this globe!
ahhh perspective

but he also says:
"'Visually, it's not very appealing. It's stewed and brown and oily and fried.'
BS! That's her lack of creativity."

and "i think that Bordaine episode in Philippines refutes the "not pretty" claim (minus goat's head)"

and "a perfectly prepared pinakbet is a work of friggin art.
textures, colors, etc"

Gerlie: read it
dont like it
pilipino food is pretty but they've been brainwashed to think that it's not
especially if they're using fru fru french standards
sorry we're not exotic enough

arnold of hell...we had fried chicken with mole at Ludo Bites and it looked like it "belonged"....laziness i think is fueled by profitablity

pic by

and he also said:
"I like what Andre's doing, but it's obvious he can make money by not selling Pinoy food"

****and to echo, yes, i will NOT EVER take away from the accomplishments of these chefs. and i am glad they were featured on LA Times. I just had to voice my frustration on these nebulous "things" that i feel hold us back as a community. we have all this pride but never focused.

in the meantime, on the otherside of the homecooking vs culinary business, i am taping my dad while he teaches me his rendition of filipino dishes. you can't really take notes. nothing is measured. according to him, he cooks "pacha pacham" which means basically you eye-ball it. you estimate. besides i am a visual learner.

it works because in the kitchen, he's the boss and wouldn't let me touch anything anyways. =)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reality says that the restaurant business in general is one of the toughest to start and be successful doing because the overhead is high and the profit margins are slim. While marketing and awareness are part of the cost and the challenge, serving food that attracts a diverse group of people over and over again is extremely difficult. That is why Oinkster is still around and other Filipino, or culturally inspired, restaurants seem to come and go.

Cuban food is based on home cooked meals and not very exotic looking, or complex, yet decent Cuban restaurants, like Versailles, seem to do pretty well at attracting a diverse group of diners which keeps them “turning tables” and staying in business. Their menu is very simple and palatable to everyone. A successful “mainstream worthy” Filipino restaurant would need to follow the same business model in order to survive long term. Does that mean selling out Filipino food? Not so much as keeping the crazy stuff, like blood and guts stew, off the menu that would turn off diners.

Look at all of the Mexican food places that are representing different regions and styles out here in Cali. Some are good, some are bad, but if you go to the Midwest or East Coast they think Taco Bell, Baja Fresh or El Torito are the real deal. So is Mexican food really mainstream? I don’t see Mexican people up in arms that most Americans like their burritos with powdered beans and nacho chess sauce. Ask an Italian person where they can find real Italian food like they eat at home. Hard to find.

And then you look at Kogi, who would have thought that people would go crazy for Korean BBQ Tacos/Burritos and Kimchi Quesadillas from a food truck? But I bet Korean BBQ joints are seeing an uptick in business as people explore beyond the Kogi truck into Korean cuisine.

Just my 2 Cents! ;-)