The Philippine government has made headway into introducing the best of Filipino food in the international market through a partnership between the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
On December 1, the two agencies launched a traveling exhibit based on the book Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine (second edition, 2013), titled Pagkain, A Philippine Food Exhibit, at the DFA Main Building in Pasay City.
Organized by noted food critic and writer Michaela Fenix, with visuals by top photographer Neal Oshima (who also shot the pictures for Kulinarya), the exhibit aims to set off a deeper appreciation for Filipino food by tracing its varied influences be it in cooking styles and flavors.
“Filipino cuisine is a sum of Filipino history—from the indigenous food of the prehistoric era, to the influences of Asian cooking brought by trade and the Colonial influences brought by conquest,” wrote Fenix in the guidebook.
Some of the Filipino favorites highlighted in the exhibit are the Kinilaw, Adobong Malutong, Kangkong (Water Spinach), Kare Kare (Oxtail Stewed Peanut Sauce), Lumpiang Ubod (Coconut Pith Spring Roll), and Beef Tapa (Cured Beef) among others.
As for cooking styles, Fenix noted, “A significant aspect of the Filipino ‘linamnam’ [flavor]is sourness and our penchant for tangy flavors. Three major Filipino cooking techniques have sourness as a flavor base: paksiw, kinilaw or kilawin, and sinigang.”
Pagkain will travel to seven Philippine Foreign Service posts in China as part of the NCCA and DFA’s ongoing cultural projects, which hope to acquaint other nationalities about the Philippines and its people, and ultimately to create better understanding in people-to-people exchanges.