How much do you know about our Filipino food, from the cuisines we enjoy to the customs we follow?
In a 10-part mini-documentary series, the National Quincentennial Committee, in collaboration with Mama Sita Foundation and the Philippine Association of Condiments Producers, shares the history that influenced our rich Filipino cuisine.
The “Pagkain Natin: Food of Our Ancestors” was organized in solidarity with the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines that marks the 500th anniversary of the events that took place here in the country during the Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation of the world.
The first of the 10-part series, entitled “The Welcome,” premiered on March 18 and focused on food as a gift for receiving others and the cultural aspect of sharing a meal as a sign of friendship.
“Our culture makes us want to feed people. We become happy if we can feed people, and that’s part of being Filipino,” Philippine culinary historian Felice Prudente-Sta. Maria said during the launch, relating the story of the reception received by the crew of Ferdinand Magellan after crossing the Pacific Ocean from South America.
Accounts of the first meeting are about sharing a meal of fish, coconut wine, coconut, rice, and rice cakes.
According to historians, the food of our ancestors was all about freshness. It featured the richness of the resources of the islands: fish in broth, meat in broth, kinilaw (vinegar cooked fish) and other vinegar dishes, tuba, rice, kakanin (sweet rice desserts), and porridge, as well as whole foods that came aplenty like ginger, coconut, batuan (souring agent found only in certain places), and banana.
The conversation – attended as well by Samar historian Rosario Nabong-Carbado, Philippine culinary advocate and founder of Via Mare Glenda Rosales-Barretto, president of the Mama Sita Foundation Clara Reyes-Lapus, and host Ian Alfonso of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines – went from what Pigafetta found and chronicled, what could be discovered of our food culture by gleaning through the earliest dictionaries published, to discovering how the early Filipinos used spices like cinnamon bark in cooking (surprise! it was used for firewood).
Future episodes of the series are set to show throughout the year: “The Coconut” on April 27, “Tuba” on May 2, “Vinegar” on May 4, “Fish” on May 7, “Chicken” on May 13, “Rice” on May 27, “Leaf-wrapped Food” on June 21, “Roasting” on Oct. 25, and “1521 to 2021” on Oct. 28.
The videos can be viewed on Mga Kuwentong Pagkain Facebook page.