Eats and treats

I am a Filipino – and this is how we cook

Whilst I have eaten Filipino food from time to time and very much enjoyed the flavour and texture combinations, I have never ventured into the realms of cooking it, or to be honest even thinking about cooking it.

Things are about to change however, thanks to ‘I am a Filipino – and this is how we cook’.

Not only are there some very tasty looking recipes between the book’s covers, it is also a great introduction not just to the dishes with their diverse cultural influences but also to the ingredients themselves.

Introducing the food of the Philippines

Written by New York restaurateurs Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad the authors have set out to introduce the food of the Philippines to a wider audience.

I confess to not having realised that there are over 7000 islands forming the Philippine archipelago and that it was the frequent colonisation of the various islands that has resulted in the widely different flavours. As is pointed out by the authors the flavours of the north are predominantly bitter, from the west and central – sweet, and hot and spicy from the south.

The birth of two restaurants

Taught by her father to cook, Nicole who had started her career working for an advertising agency, decided to move to New York. Gradually the idea of opening a Filipino restaurant pushed its way into her mind; a restaurant where diners could relax but also learn about this exciting cuisine.

By sheer hard work and determination – learning the restaurant business the hard way by working in them – the dream slowly began to become a reality but she needed a chef. Ironically the chef she eventually found Miguel Trinidad was from Dominica and was not a Filipino, but he was willing to learn.

Maharlika and Jeepney

They called their first restaurant (a pop-up restaurant) Maharlika. Then they found a suitable restaurant in New York City’s East Village. In its new permanent site Maharlika, served classic Filipino dishes. Not long after that Maharlika was joined by another restaurant Jeepney, this one serving gastropub-style Filipino food. And now the two highly acclaimed restaurants have been joined by this cookbook featuring some of the most popular Filipino recipes – including street food.

Excellent descriptions and explanations of various ingredients are followed by recipes each with helpful notes and interesting introductions.

A birthday present

‘I am a Filipino’ is a fascinating book – great photos by Justin Walker, by the way. I had been sitting reading it prior to visitors arriving and had left the book lying on a table. One of the guests picked it up and started reading – and kept going back to it. So much so, that his wife has promised to buy him a copy for his birthday.

I am a Filipino – and this is how we cook. Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad. ISBN : 978-1-57965-767-3. £26.99. Artisan. www.workman.com.

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