Friday, March 21, 2014

#Filipino #cuisine: Culture of laziness in the #kitchen consistently results in mediocre #food

Filipino food regrettably ranks as one of the worst in the world - street food or otherwise. If you say to someone - 'how about Filipino tonight' - it does not conjure up going out to eat! The reason has little to do with poverty. In so many countries I visit it was the poverty which drove the initial creativity to maximise variety and flavor from very basic choices and to experiment with ingredients.

It seems more to do with a generic culture of laziness and lack of creativity which extends to the kitchen. It is also that few learn to cook or take on board a passion for food, and unlike the curiosity of foreigners, Filipinos do not explore a wide range of cuisines but stick to what they know and suffer withdrawal symptoms if no rice.

Food is predominantly basic rice 3 times a day (good luck with the diabetes), and anything thrown in oil and overcooked (good luck with heart disease) creating one brown mess on the plate (a forerunner of things to come!) and often served/eaten lukewarm. One's tastebuds soon go on strike. For the bone-idle there is the fallback which is the abomination and rip off called Jollibee - cruelty to the palate

The Philippines is the land which cooking forgot and which gourmands will never remember. A blank in the Michelin guide - no surprise there.
It is regrettable because as with many areas it represents lost opportunity. Fusion cuisine has great potential and a natural affinity.

Fortunately the rest of Asia produces excellent food, with subtle and surprising combinations, beautiful and colorful presentation, all garnished with excellent service.

The joke for travellers used to getting the Delhi Belly, now it is the Manila Killa.

Visitors should just consider the Philippines as a culinary desert, with the schools providing assembly line 'chefs' for the cruise ships. Masterchef it ain't.

A few ex-pat chefs such as Billy King can muster a decent spread on a good day, and Sofitel remains consistently good, thanks to French flair and an excellent GM. Chef Pengson at the Goose Station may be pretentious but tries, and your wallet will remember the experience. But apart from high end restaurants, overall there is a need to improve, particularly if tourists are going to have an enjoyable and memorable stay (for the right reasons) and recommend the country, and also to improve the health of all.

And unlike the food, which is often as tough as old boots, Filipinos are emotional souls incapable of taking constructive criticism so food critics can expect to be 'persona non grata' if you have higher standards than a Chinese take-away or an American throwaway.

Gordon Ramsay would be on expletive overdrive, but Andrew Zimmern in 7th Heaven, and Dan Brown in hell's kitchen

And if tourists have those views then people can either be butthurt and adopt an ostrich approach or be open, proactive and improve standards and change the reputation, or tourists can simply visit other countries in Asia.


1 comment:

  1. Every time I go on a business trip to another region in the country I always look forward to trying the local cuisine of that region. Most of the time it is a stew of something and is always a combination of many ingredients that takes time to be cooked. So, I don't see the laziness reflected in their food or way of cooking. Even the men take pride in preparing their pulutans.


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