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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Chicken Noodle Soup for my Soul

As a Filipino, food and culture are two things that have always fascinated me (no surprise, right?). But even more than that, the relationship between food and culture and how one feeds the other, is even more interesting.

A culture's food is always very revealing. Just based on key ingredients and cooking techniques, you can guess the country's geography, the personality of the people, and belief/value system. Take for instance, Japanese cuisine. Most dishes are very simple and minimalist, many are seafood based (as Japan is an archipelago), and try to achieve some kind of balance. Italian dishes are heartier, with richer and various spices and flavors, but leave you with a full stomach and a welcome warmth.

But then you get to Filipino food and it's like... what am I eating? Filipino food is really... an amalgamation of several different cuisines: Malay, South East Asian, Chinese, American, and Spanish. The national dish is adobo, which means to cook with soy sauce (so literally anything can be adobo-ed), even though adobo originates from a Spanish pepper and dish. The funny thing is that there are several different versions of adobo, depending on where you go and who you ask... when it comes down to it, every single family has their own version of adobo.

Most dishes are stew/broth based, with deeper and savory flavors, most are quite fatty, regional based, and play with sour, salty, and sweet tastes. Take sinigang which is made of a clear broth stew flavored with tamarind, filled with all sorts of vegetables like eggplant and string beans, and can feature meats from oxtail, pork, or different seafood. It's an dump all the food you can into a pot and let it stew for awhile kind of dish, that is efficient, budget friendly, feeds plenty, and always leaves you feeling satisfied.

And if our food is difficult to pin down, imagine what it's like when someone asks me to describe the Filipino culture. Like our food, it's a mix of all different kinds of cultures. Not quite Asian and not quite Pacific Islander. We've certainly gotten a lot of influence from Spain in terms of our Catholic religion, American influences on our government and entertainment, but I think it's the best many worlds.

There is one thing I can say about the Filipino culture and our food, and this is the thing that I'm most proud of. Everything we do, we do with love, passion, and keeping in mind the family. We are welcoming, friendly, hard-working people who love to laugh, sing, dance, talk, and eat.

Try our food, you'll see what I mean. One sip of sinigang or one bite of adobo and you'll feel like you're back home with your own family sitting around the dinner table, telling jokes and stories, laughing and enjoying life.

Issa Morada

Photo Credit:EatingAsia


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