Suman Bulagta Forever!

Posted by on Dec 26, 2012 in Capampangan, Filipino, Rice | 1 comment


The Christmases of my childhood are memorable for the variety of rice cakes that we had, most of which were given by relatives and friends. From the barrios of pangulû were brought different calamé and suman tílî.

At home on Christmas Eve, my grandmother would sit down and make the ‘easier’ suman bulagta (suman sa lihiya in Tagalog). I was the one designated assistant to cut and wipe the banana leaves, measure the lijia (lye water) and arrange the wrapped rice in the clay pot, ready to be cooked on the wood-burning stove. The last time I did that was 27 years ago.

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Heirloom recipes cooking contests

Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Filipino, The Pilgrim Ponders | 0 comments


Two days, two cooking contests! One in Quezon City and the other in my quaint and lovely hometown. In both cases, I – together with other members of the respective panels – had the less stressful but no less difficult role of judging entries that were cooked on-the-spot.

The first contest, Lutong Rotarian 2012, was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Quezon City (R.I. District 3780). It had two parts. The first was a showcase of the participants’s heritage recipes, the dishes that have been in their families through generations.

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Indigenising shawarma?!

Posted by on Nov 24, 2012 in Filipino, The Pilgrim Ponders | 0 comments

Just like how I only watch the news on TV which does not help in updating me with pop culture, I am almost the same with food trends, a bit adventurous but I do not really feel the necessity to always catch up with what’s ‘in’. Perhaps it is ingrained because the way we were brought up, if we wanted to eat something, we would cook it at home, even if it was more convenient to just buy it from the corner store.

In any case, I was a bit intrigued with the sign at one of the local food courts the other day. ‘Shawarma rice’ had me conjuring visions of meat wrapped in a pitta bread with rice pilaf on the side. Or given a Filipino twist, would the rice be integrated into the meat and stuffed into the pitta bread? Then it would resemble a Tex-Mex burrito, albeit with a different flavour palate.

It was none of that.

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Seminar review by Jenn of Manila Talks

Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in The Pilgrim Ponders | 0 comments


Our food and culture seminar last Saturday exceeded my expectations. We were quite a small number but the interaction that led to the discussion’s excellent quality proved that strength does not lie in numbers (apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein).

I am still overwhelmed at the participants’ responses. For one, I feel so affirmed to know that the fruits of my years of research have found a practical application and that it somehow rationalises many things about Filipino cuisine.

I intend to write a recap or several short summary posts but I will have to distill the takeaway lessons from the seminar first. However, Jenn of Manila Walks (sorry, not in photo) thoughtfully wrote a review and I’m touched that she said she wants to be an advocate of Filipino food.

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Join our Filipino food seminar!

Posted by on Oct 17, 2012 in The Pilgrim Ponders | 4 comments

We are what we eat. The more we understand what goes into the claypot and how it transforms into food that nurtures and defines us, the better we appreciate our own culture. This November, “Paano Naging Pagkaing Pinoy: A Seminar on Filipino Food and Identity” aims to engage participants in a lively conversation (and tasting!) on the subject of Filipino food.

The event will be held on November 17, 2012 (2:00-6:00 p.m.) at Carelink Asia Institute in Quezon City, with food and culture researcher and blogger Karen S. Shih as facilitator and speaker. The seminar will feature a discussion on the evolution of Filipino food – its history, ingredients, and Filipino eating habits – and includes a sampling of representative traditional dishes.

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