Filipino Food is MISUNDERSTOOD and UNDERREPRESENTED. Filipinos make up the second highest Asian population in the United States (Chinese are #1), and first highest Asian population in California yet make up less than 1% of the restaurant industry — whereas other Asian foods are thriving.
Ask any Filipinos where you can try good Filipino food and you’ll often be greeted with a negatory smack of the tongue. “They’re not any good,” is a typical response; with most Filipinos relegating their meals to inside the home. Outsiders are only privy to Filipino food if they have Filipino friends or if they’re invited to a house party where they are greeted by Filipino food in full swing; the ultimate culinary conglomerate. It is an intense experience of sweet, salty and spicy all on one plate. Asian, Spanish, Indian and Mexican flavors co-mingle to produce such delights as lumpia, pancit, adobo, kare-kare, lechon baboy.
In the bay area, Filipino restaurants are precarious. Here one day, gone the next. As I was following one Yelp reviewer explore her local Filipino food scene I watched as one by one the Yelp postings proclaimed CLOSED on each restaurant listing.
I began reading articles about the lack of Filipino foods and realized that just as many people were in disbelief. Historically, the Filipino people are a very passionate, prideful community. Why is their food — which is arguably the metaphor for cultural identity — so easily compromised and so absent from such a diverse community like the United States? Why are so many people hesitant to try Filipino Food?
My hopes are — that with this blog, you will become more familiarized with Filipino food and its steady rise to the American palate. In June 2012, esteemed food critic Andrew Zimmern predicted that Filipino is the “Next Big Thing,” while other media outlets have identified “adobo” as the dish to watch out for in 2012-2013. Critics claim that as Mexican, Chinese, Thai and Indian become more happenstance, that “idling” time has led to the perfect conditions for Filipino food to move in.
What motivates me the most is the thought of others experiencing the tastes and smells that make me who I am, tastes that provide the backbone of the Philippine country. Driven by indigenous livestock like the chicken and fruit crops like mango, coconut, and pineapple — we have a rich menu that reveals a narrative of a country stricken by colonization, motivated by revolution and in the end, accepting and celebratory towards all of the conditions that have made us who we are. The result is a true culinary conglomerate — a “mix”, halo, in tagalog, that is radical yet familiar in strands.
I hope that you will partake in this discovery and remain openminded as I use some of my most trusted resources — family, friends, neighbors, local restaurant owners — to paint a picture of the world’s most misunderstood cuisine.