Food philosophy has always fascinated me.
I’d be in a school luncheon and pay attention to seating arrangements. I’d watch the way that people ate and contrast across cultures. I’ve studied dining etiquette and food mannerisms. Books on food psychology, food preferences, the olfactory and gastronomy systems keep me up at night. I’ve literally spent one hour in the food anthropology section of our library and checked out 10+ books, only to be up in $82 in library fines when I didn’t have feasible time to finish them all.
I have had 1 previous blog in the past to address these food philosophy obsessions. But I became overwhelmed with the lack of research available and the synthesizing commitments this asked of me.
But — after receiving one book on Amazon in the mail, I began reading it and over time settled on pages 129-132. I must have read these pages over and over again with a furrowed brow thinking — Yes!!! yes, yes, yes!!! And later, thinking: There is so much more to this than 3 pages. It was like I stumbled across this thesis that helped everything come together for me. It was an identity struggle that has been tangled inside of me for years; dating back to the one time in elementary school I had a friend over and they were disgusted that we were eating fish at breakfast. If food was always such an integral part of my life, why were there so many people who had disdain for the food that I loved?
This was that book:
I had picked up the book because I had been reading some of the egullet forums and it came highly recommended. Plus, I thought it would lend some color to my growing collection of food literature.
The subheading was this: What’s Wrong with This Picture?: Why you’ve probably never been to a Filipino restaurant
It began by listing the Asian populations in the U.S. according to the 2000 United States Census:
1. Chinese: 2,734,841
3. Indian 1,899,599
4. Korean 1,288,427
5. Vietnamese 1,223,736
6. Japanese 1,148,932
Can you guess what #2 is? Shaw implores. Most people guess Thai — after all, there are Thai restaurants everywhere. But, no! It’s not Thai. The number 2 group is Filipino, at 2.3 million.
“If population truly determines the popularity of restaurants,” Shaw writes, “there would be more Filipino restaurants than Indian restaurants more FIlipino restaurants than Indian restaurants, more Filipino restaurants than Japanese restaurants, and almost as many Filipino restaurants as Chinese restaurants. Yet there are only 481 Filipino restaurants in the United States, or 1.1 percent as many Filipino restaurants as Chinese.” [accents added for emphasis]
Shaw’s rationale? He cites chef Cristeta Comerford, the White House executive chef and an informal Filipino food liaison. She cites these 3 reasons:
- Filipinos are not a “restaurant-going culture”, even in the Philippines.
- Filipinos have a stronger preference to eat at home.
- Cooking does not equal a “legitimate career” in Filipino culture.
He also cites a lack of successful marketing, a popular argument.
Baby is awake now, so I should probably get going. But just wanted to share with you the basic premise, so you can get a sense of the beginning.