APRIL Books of the month: FOOD BOOKS
Ushering in our April theme of the month is Joanne Boston. She is an amazing writer who will always share 5 yummy restaurant recommendations and a bright warm smile.
Hey everyone! Joanne here!
What an incredible time it is for our Filipino community here in the South of Market aka SoMa Pilipinas! This area, particularly Mission Street between 6th and 3rd, has always been a special place for my family. I remember when I was a child, between the ages of 3-8 years old, we would take the 14 from our house in the Outer Mission all the way here just so that my Tatay can meet up with his Veterano buddies and Inang and I could have lunch at the Filipino kitchenette inside Mint Mall. Dinuguan or pinapaitan were our weekend traditions.
I am excited for this movement and growth in SoMa Pilipinas. Fil-Am pride is felt and it is strong with efforts led by Undiscovered SF, Kulinary Confidential, Pistahan Parade & Festival, and local small businesses and collectives, such as Inay’s, JT’s, Mestiza Taqueria, Bindlestiff, and of course, Arkipelago Books.
I am thrilled to see people within our Filipino diaspora launch books as this is their way of conserving history and heritage. Having worked with various organizations and businesses to promote Filipino food over the years, seeing the progress of this cuisine and our community is inspiring to me.
We have a growing library of Filipino cookbooks with real Filipino/Fil-Am recipes, stories, histories available to us. Just in the last six months, these four Filipino cookbooks were released, further escalating interest in Filipino food. Lucky for you, they are available for purchase at Arkipelago Books NOW:
Pulutan! Filipino Bar Bites, Appetizers and Street Eats – Marvin Gapultos
I started food blogging in 2007 while I was in college. I had dreams of being the Filipina Rachael Ray or Anthony Bourdain – traveling the world to eat and talk about it. I began writing about the food and restaurant scene here in the San Francisco Bay Area, but eventually (after tiring out from writing about frisee salads and tuna tartare), I narrowed my focus on Filipino food. My research on Filipino food bloggers led me to the “Burnt Lumpia” blog. In fact, this was one of the most visited blogs, and I loved author Marvin Gapultos’ home cook-friendly recipes and accompanying [hilarious] puns and anecdotes – “Don’t eat the yellow snow” for his kalamansi granita. I followed Marvin from the blog to this food truck venture “Manila Machine” (the first Filipino food truck in Los Angeles) where I would eventually meet and chat with him in 2011, to the launch of his first cookbook “The Adobo Road” in 2013. When he told me about his latest book “Pulutan! Filipino Bar Bites, Appetizers and Street Eats” released in the Fall of 2018, I was thrilled for him as he is a Certified Cicerone and craft beer professional. Finally! A Filipino-American cookbook for us who like to drink! His book features dishes that go well with beers, wine, liquor, and cocktails, from San Mig to Red Horse to a personal favorite of mine, Infanta Lambanog. During his launch in San Francisco, we sampled the beef caldereta chili, which was just beautiful. The bright color scheme and photography (which he directed himself) get your mouth watering. The home cook-friendly approach is again appreciated so anyone can cook up these dishes for any occasion. Sunday Football with Bicol Express pork meatballs? Corned Dog Quail Eggs aka kwek kwek? Yes, please!
No Forks Given – Yana Gilbuena
Yana Gilbuena is a force. A fierce Pinay from Iloilo who had a goal…and smashed it. I first met Yana when I was researching for my website in 2013. She was making news for being a woman on a mission: to cook Filipino food, kamayan-style (meals to be eaten with your hands), in all 50 states under her nomadic brand SALO Series. With her ever-changing hairstyles, I surveyed her journey from state to state, until we would eventually meet for the first time in person at Savor Filipino in California in 2014. I wanted to pick her brain about the people she met, the entrees she cooked and under what conditions she had to perform. While we never had a chance to go one state at a time, thankfully, we now have a book that chronicles all her experiences and more. This self-published memoir is a labor of love and a project accomplished by an excellent team run by women of color: Malaka Gharib, Nikki Bonsol, Soleil Ho, Irene Yadao. The sassy title prepares us for the Yana’s journey. This book gets real. Traveling around the country to cook, I learned, is not all rainbows, unicorns, and confetti. Though does her atchara of red cabbage count? It’s mighty pretty. There were times of struggles, times to get creative, and times to slow down to appreciate the special moments – like baking fresh pan de sal in Ohio with Lola Linda. What is to be recognized is her skill to use what the environment had available and how Yana adapted to her surroundings to create memorable experiences for her diners.
The New Filipino Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from around the Globe – Jacqueline Chio-Lauri
Full disclosure: I am a part of this book, so this is a very dear project to me.
When our Euro-based editor and leader Jacqueline Chio-Lauri asked me to be a part of this book a few years ago, I was not expecting for it to make such a significant impact in my life and the lives of my co-contributors. First off, the book is an anthology of narratives and recipes from 30 Filipinos/Fil-Ams/expats from all over the world – from the United States to Europe to Canada and beyond. You get 30 distinctive viewpoints with delicious dishes to match. What made this book even more special is that many of my co-contributors are great friends and colleagues: Saudi Arabia/NYC’s Chef Paolo Espanola and his pancit molo (which is gorgeously highlighted on the cover), Stockton/Chicago’s Chef Robert Menor and his Pulled Pork Adobo Loko Sliders, Toronto writer Nastasha Alli and her pancit palabok. The most rewarding part of being in this book are the new connections I have made. My co-contributors are incredible people. During one of my commutes to work on BART, I began reading the story of my friend Chef Allen Pineda and his Filipino fried chicken. He tells about his days as a young Allen walking to school through a Canadian wind chill of -40*F. I sudden wash of tears filled my eyes. Our unique stories are being told. Though each of us came from different backgrounds, careers, and regions, one thing united us: Filipino food. The stories are heartwarming. I have had people tell me they got emotional reading some of the stories. The photos captured by Rowena Dumlao-Giardina are stunning. The book is currently being toured around the world, and it is always so wonderful to see my co-contributors promote the book because now we are like a family supporting our baby with Ninang Jackie leading the way.
I Am a Filipino: This is How We Cook – Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad
Since its release last October, “I Am a Filipino” has garnered much praise, including a James Beard Award nomination under the International Books category. I have worked with NY-based restaurateur Nicole Ponseca and Chef Miguel Trinidad (Maharlika, Jeepney, Tita Baby’s) at a few events and I have eaten at their restaurants, but it was not until a 2016 lunch we had at XO 46 Bistro in Bonifacio Global City (a district in Manila, Philippines), where I had the chance to speak to Nicole about her dreams for this book. As we were noshing on Pancit Pusit, a Caviteño noodle dish which lured a twinkle in her eye (she mentioned with enthusiasm “my father is from Cavite!”), Nicole told me about where she and Chef Miguel were heading next for the book: Aklan, Boracay, Batangas. As she spoke, I saw how important it was for Nicole to learn the processes of making the dishes, meeting the people who made it, and even ordering every item from a restaurant’s menu to get a well-rounded impression. A result of their travels is this book: an incredible collection of recipes, some very familiar, like Kare Kare, and others I have never seen before, such as the recipes from the South where many Muslims reside. The photos and histories of the ingredients, our people, and dishes are vibrant and inviting. Keep in mind, this book is co-written by a chef. Some methods and ingredients are unorthodox but worth exploring. After all, Nicole has been known to say, "I want to change the narrative for Filipino food." Indeed, the flavors and background of our cuisine are rich, pungent, and bold. With books like hers and Miguel’s, the power to transform is now in our hands.