When things feel really bad, we ought to hold on to anything that we can celebrate. Most recently, Grammy award-winning rapper Cardi B shared how she loves Filipino cuisine. On her Instagram stories, Cardi B shared a video feasting on lumpiang shanghai, pancit, and fruit salad. The news has immediately trended to the delight of her Filipino fans. This is such a proud moment that Filipino foodies can hold on to.
But this recognition is far and few between. Not a lot of people in the world can even recall a treasured dish from our country. Compared to other Asian cuisines, our very own lags behind in popularity. We have a ton of dishes that are mouth-watering and can give you a mind-blowing experience should you have a good taste of it. Should I mention lechon, sinigang, or adobo? But why is it still underrated?
Why is it underrated?
Can it be traced to our western influences? We were colonized by Spain for more than 300 years and a half-century by the Americans after that. There is not a specific distinct taste that the international community can even recognize. Does the fusion of cultural influences factor to this? Certified Rocker Chef Rolando Laudico of the famed Filipino Restaurant Guevarra’s said, “It’s underrated in some countries because there are simply not enough good restaurants that you can actually eat really good Filipino food. Most parts of the world don’t even have Pinoy restaurants at all. And worse if there are places that do serve our food it’s done using convenience products like instant mixes and such and not the real cooked from scratch type of cuisine.”
Most often than not, these sauces or marinades contain artificial flavorings, MSG, and other stuff that is really not what true Filipino flavor is. Even our own cooks at home rarely know how to cook our cuisine properly from scratch. They are too dependent on shortcut methods. Even our culinary schools here don’t bother teaching the proper way of cooking Filipino dishes. I bet more cooks here know how to cook carbonara pasta than let’s say Kare-Kare.”
“But in some countries, Filipino food is actually gaining more ground even here. More great chefs are doing fantastic Filipino cuisine as we speak. We just need to continue promoting it and doing it the right way. Being creative in presenting our food, either traditionally or in a modern way but still being faithful to what makes our Philippine food awesome. Because at the end of the day, what defines our cuisine is its inherent flavors that span generations and a multitude of cultural influences,“ Chef Laudico added.
What should we do?
Just like what the renowned Chef Laudico mentioned, visibility is the key for Filipino cuisine to be the next big thing. If our famed chefs in the country will have an opportunity to establish great Pinoy restaurants abroad, then our cuisine can steal everyone’s hearts.
Locally, we know that we have a cuisine that is rich in flavor and history. We just need to learn how to do things from scratch to elevate our own dishes. If we can leverage on the fusion of cultures that influenced us and holds sway on our palates, we can propel our unique and rich flavor into the mainstream. Eventually, our cuisine can also be a staple in everyone’s meals and can gain the attention and utmost respect it deserves.