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Starweek Magazine

Good eats

Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - In a country where a common greeting is “Kumain ka na ba? (Have you eaten?)” or “Kain na! (Let’s eat!),” it is no wonder that the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc. (CSFI) found it fitting to produce a cookbook filled with recipes from more than 100 towns and cities around the Philippines.

“Whether it is for friendly gatherings, family get-togethers or work meetings, the ritual of sharing a meal is an important one, regardless of our different affiliations and divergent opinions,” writes editor-in-chief Mons Romulo in her introduction to Salu-salo: A Celebration of Philippine Culinary Treasures.

It was in November last year that the CSFI board, headed by president and chairman Joy Belmonte, started brainstorming ways to raise more funds to support their projects. “We then thought of doing a book similar to Baro: Philippine Fabric and Fashion which I did way back 2003 with Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando,” says Romulo. “But since our country was hit by Typhoon Yolanda, VM Joy Belmonte and I felt it was not right to do a book on fashion.”

She adds, “Regardless of our different affiliations and divergent opinions, sharing a meal always sets the tone for that great warm feeling of love and friendship in every gathering.”

With this in mind, she presented the idea of a cookbook and the board willingly gave her their support.

In Salu-salo, members of Congress, their spouses and relatives share recipes of delicacies which their towns or cities are known for. “Fortunately, some even shared the secret recipes handed down to them by their grandparents,” says Romulo.

Each recipe was kitchen-tested for the book. “We really wanted to make sure when one tries it at home, their dish will taste as good and authentic as the original recipe.”

Among the many different vibrant flavors, Romulo says that she considers each dish important. But, when prodded to choose a favorite, she says, “Of course my favorite dish was that from my sister-in-law Shalani which was a special suman recipe from Pasig City.”

She adds, “But setting aside any biases, I was very interested in the crispy dinuguan, how my favorite Ilocos empanada is made, bistek walastik from Pasay and many more recipes we never would have thought existed.”

Putting together a book that spans the country is not an easy feat. Romulo gives credit to the CSFI team that worked on the book, led by Belmonte and executive director Paula Bondoc. “This was a huge cast of more than a hundred people involved but we managed to finish on our target date,” she says.

Romulo shares that making the book evoked the same feeling of unity experienced when sharing a meal. “When we were doing this cookbook, everyone who shared their recipe came in happy and excited to share their dishes.”

Despite the logistical challenges, she describes the making of the book as a fun fiesta, with each town and city offering their best dish to share with everyone.

“I had the pleasure of seeing how it brought out the best in every participant and the privilege of sharing their palpable pride in the specialties of their districts,” Romulo says.

 

Paired with each dish is a brief background on the town or city it originates from. “We also got the services of Ige Ramos, a multi-awarded food writer, to do the in-depth research and we all agreed we follow the traditional cooking techniques given to us by our contributors,” says Romulo. “Most of those who readily shared their recipes were also very involved, giving us very strict instructions that we have to follow their recipes to the letter. We took it as something positive and we were very appreciative with their concerns.”

Thus, the book has also become a record of each destination’s culture and heritage.

As Belmonte put it in her foreword to the book, “Each dish is a distillation of our colorful culture, as well as an invitation to visit the wonderful places from which they came.”

Romulo agrees, “In each of these recipes, I hope you will discover, as I did, a wealth of cultural heritage, a richness of personal meanings and a simple abundance of good food.”

She adds, “Reading the book is like traveling all over our beautiful country.” And, surely, cooking each recipe in Salu-salo will bring this journey to a new, delicious dimension.

For more information on “Salu-salo: A Celebration of Philippine Culinary Treasures,” email [email protected]

A CELEBRATION OF PHILIPPINE CULINARY TREASURES

AS BELMONTE

BOOK

CONGRESSIONAL SPOUSES FOUNDATION INC

IGE RAMOS

IN SALU

JOY BELMONTE

ROMULO

SALU

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