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From ‘Our Table’ to ‘Table For Ten’

By CLAUDE TAYAG, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 24, 2022 5:00 am

A group of well-meaning friends in publishing, media and the culinary arts embarked on a cookbook project to raise funds for COVID-19 efforts in the Philippines. The damage caused by the pandemic to our economy, health and future is one that they cannot, in conscience, ignore.

Its editorial team has partnered with RPD Publications to produce a cookbook, Our Table: Food Inspired by our Families. It was envisioned as a collection of 50 recipes and stories of professional chefs and home cooks, created from food that brings forth memories of family. For many, family is comfort, conjuring images of warmth and caring. It is this feeling that they wished to capture and share with the readers. The global pandemic has created circumstances where stress, uncertainty and fear are constants. Through this initiative, they hoped to give as many warm hugs as they can, allaying ill feelings, even if just for a moment.

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The Quezon City Health Department has been identified as its first beneficiary. The group has witnessed the strides made by the department and is confident that any contribution that they make will translate to concrete results in the fight against COVID-19.

The cookbook’s target audience is the home cook, as they encouraged contributors to make their recipes easy for anyone to do at home, requiring ingredients that are easy to source.

All members of the team have waived their professional fees and will be generously covering all out-of-pocket expenses. Only the cost of printing and any applicable taxes will have to be paid from the proceeds of the sale. Outside of RPD Publications and its officers, members of the team are Maricris B. Encarnacion as its editor; Butchie D. Peña, art director; Gina Y. Navarro, chef, recipe editor and stylist; Eugene C. Raymundo, chef and stylist; Amanda LuYm, photographer; and Dwight Lu, photographer.

Contributing chefs and cooks are Ariel Manuel, Beth Romualdez, Bing Tanalgo, Butchie Peña, Carlo Lorenzana, Carmela Ang, Chele Gonzalez, Christian de Jesus, Colin Mackay, Dennis Lim, Eugene Raymundo, Gina Aboitiz, Gina Navarro, Ginny de Guzman, Glenda Barretto, Heny Sison, Janice de Belen, Jayme Natividad, Jessie Sincioco, Joel Binamira, Judy Ann Santos, Kathy Dano, Atching Lillian Borromeo, Lita Urbina, Marco Protacio, Margarita Jiggs Sibal, Maricel Pangilinan Arenas, Maricris Encarnacion, Martin Kaspar, Mary Ann Jugo, Michael Silbor, Olive Puentespina, Penk Ching, Pepper Teehankee, Pette Jorolan, Pilar Streegan, Piolo Pascual, Rhoda Fernandez, Robby Goco, Rosebud Benitez, Sandy Daza, Sau del Rosario, Susie Borromeo Milne, Tina Diaz, Vicky Pacheco and, last but not least, this writer.

Most of the ingredients that lie at the heart of the foundation of Philippine cooking [...] are also cornerstones for the other cuisines of the region.

All proceeds from the sale of Our Table will be donated to Quezon City health workers who are on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19.

Copies are available at P695 each, excluding delivery. To order, please send an email to [email protected]; FB: Maricris Encarnacion; IG: @mrsenky.

Table for Ten: ASEAN shared food traditions

The Department of Foreign Affairs recently published a cookbook, Table for Ten: ASEAN Shared Food Traditions, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of both the ASEAN Ladies Foundation, Inc. (ALF) and the DFA Ladies Foundation, Inc., and also in support of its cultural diplomacy initiatives. Both foundations are chaired by Maria Lourdes B. Locsin, wife of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr.

Much has been said about the uniqueness of Philippine cooking vis-a-vis its neighbors, many of these differentiating elements ascribed to its history, from the fondness of Hispanic tastes to the employment of Chinese cooking techniques and ingredients.

Equally, there are many similarities that tie its cuisine to Southeast Asia. Most of the ingredients that lie at the heart of the foundation of Philippine cooking, from ginger to lemongrass, sour citrus to mellowing coconut milk, rice to noodle, are also cornerstones for the other cuisines of the region. The same can be said of the cooking techniques, such as denaturing in acid, grilling, steaming, boiling and braising, as well as fermentation techniques of seafood and carbohydrate.

And there is, of course, the palate, a shared adoration for the salty, sweet, sour, spicy and bitter, combined in various degrees so that the result, though similar, is seldom completely the same.

It is these concepts that Table for Ten, a literary endeavor named after the number of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), discusses. The book is divided into 12 chapters, each one exploring different subjects, from layered rice cakes to fermented seafood, rice dishes to salads. Each chapter also contains two recipes so that the reader may bring the discussed ideas to life in their own kitchens and, by doing so, understand how the countries that make up ASEAN are just as similar as they are different.

Michaela Fenix writes: “When the three authors, Bryan Koh, Datu Shariff Pendatun, and I met to discuss what the planned ASEAN food book should contain, similarities of food traditions were agreed to quite easily. And we agreed as easily to group those foods into 12 general headings like sour soup, rice, and pickles, four essays for each of us to write. It was also quite natural for us to settle who would do the other things required—the introduction by Pendatun, the recipes by Koh, and doing what I always like to do for a book—the glossary and index. It was an easy triumvirate, each of us editing each other and adding our own contributions to each other’s essays.”

Though the book isn’t available for sale to the public, it should, hopefully, be made accessible online for free to reach a wider audience, not only within the ASEAN region, but worldwide as well.