How Filipino Food Is Becoming the Next Great American Cuisine

Photo by Eddie Lin/lamag,com

By Claudia McNeill/vogue.com – Asked to name your favorite dish from Japanese, Italian, Mexican, or Indian cuisine, and a flood of options may come to mind. Should you choose ramen or sushi? Pizza or pasta? Tacos or enchiladas? Butter chicken or saag paneer? Yet when asked to recall a treasured dish of the Philippines, you may find yourself stumped to identify a single entree.

It’s been five years since food writer Andrew Zimmern predicted Filipino cuisine was going to become “the next big thing.” Yet the flavors of the Philippines are still largely misunderstood by the rest of the world. Food stylists have been known to position chopsticks alongside Filipino dishes, assuming the country’s Southeast Asian geography means chopsticks are used as the primary delivery vehicle for food, when it is, in fact, forks and spoons. Balut, or developing bird embryo, has been erected as a lazy stand-in for a cuisine as varied and nuanced as its 18 regions.

Often called the original fusion cuisine, Filipino food is an intricate pattern of Spanish, Western, Chinese, Japanese, and Pacific Islander flavors that serve as living proof of the country’s rich cultural history. Chicken or pork adobo uses the Spanish term adobo meaning “marinade” to drench meats in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar. Kare kare, or oxtail stew, derives its name from “curry” as a result of the country’s deeply rooted Indian heritage. The celebrated use of Spam—fried to golden crisps in spamsilog or served in sandwiches between fluffy French bread topped with a fried egg—remains a symbol of the American influence during World War II.

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