A friend recently informed me of his website that showcases the food culture of Pampanga.He has been touring people around historical sites in Intramuros for years that I was a bit surprised to find out that he’s as equally interested in regional food culture.
There’s history in the food that we serve. Every local dish have its cultural, traditional and sociological impact in our society. Come to think of it, of all our traditions, food survives all sociocultural changes. We lose our local languages, dances, traditional costumes, house and even values but never our cuisine.
The reputation of Pampanga as a province of excellent provincial cuisine is deserved. They have the most creative cusinero’t cusinera. Their cuisine are so well loved that even in far southern provinces can find food houses serving sisig and chops of mekeni tocino.
If your up to the challenge you can try servings of exotic Campampangan dishes like: adobong camaru (crickets), calderatang barag (monitor lizard), dog stew, duck stew (boiled in blood) and tinolang palaka. These dishes are proof of Campangan’s creativity and originality around the cusina.
I once ate a dish of flavored chicken and rice while I was still a college student. The curious young man I am, I inquired what it was. My classmate’s cook cum all-around-maid said that it’s a favorite dish back in their home province. I later found out that the dish is called Nasing Biringyi. After some years passed, I never encountered the dish again until I landed in Singapore. The Malay have this dish called Nasi Biriyani [Indian's have their own version]. Aside from the name, the taste was familiar. Almost similar to that dish I ate a decade ago.
How this dish traveled that far and survived as a tradition that goes beyond generations is a testament to the lasting cultural legacy of our ancestor’s food culture.
Like what my friend said, “Food is culture, culture is food”. This may sound like a chant coming from food addicts but no one can disprove the transcending influence of Filipino food.
One other common trait we share with Malay’s is that they always casually invite people they know to eat with them. They insist like we do. “Makan, Makan…” to them is “kain, kain…” to us. The words almost sounds identical. Not only do we have a lot of common words, our physical features and characteristics have striking similarities too. If it were not for the Spaniards, we would be closer today to the Malayan way of life.