On food culture and the ‘authenticity’ of food

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Whilst browsing Facebook during lunchbreak, I happened across an article that had been shared by some fellow Filipino foodies. It was a short promotional article in Afar Magazine, detailing Aashi Vel of Traveling Spoon’s trip to the Philippines and the subsequent expansion of her business there. In essence, Traveling Spoon offers unique culinary experiences in a select number of countries, whereby travellers can connect with home cooks and eat in their homes.

“Discover an authentic culinary experience with the best home cooks around the world”

Sounds pretty cool, no? So it was interesting to see what she thought of the Philippines’ culinary scene.

Alas, it becomes quite clear from the article that she very nearly did not have a good time of it at all. She was only rescued by two of the hosts now signed up to Traveling Spoon, who cooked for and fed her their family dishes. Because of this experience, she came to the conclusion that, to quote the article, “to get a real taste of Filipino food that truly reflects its history, you have to step inside a local home… [because] It’s still difficult to find restaurants that serve ‘authentic’ Filipino cuisine in the Philippines”. This, in her mind, makes Traveling Spoon’s mission in the Philippines crucial, because they are all about offering people ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ food experiences.

As someone who’s always enjoyed his food journeys around the Philippines and is really excited by the restaurant scene in Manila, this bold statement comes across as a bit iffy. I felt a bit puzzled about the article and left it alone, but the more I thought about it, the more my puzzlement turned into a mild sense of indignation. How can someone, an outsider, who seems to be still growing in their understanding of Filipino food, cast such generalised and damning judgement upon the entire restaurant scene of a nation of 7,107 islands and 100 million people?

And so I started writing my thoughts down, and compiling them into an essay of sorts. Want to have a read? Just click on the link!

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Categories: Filipino | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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