Is standardizing adobo recipe the answer?

READERS' VIEWS - The Freeman

Early this year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released a statement of its plan to standardize the recipe of Adobo and other Pinoy dishes and it drew a lot of online opinions from different regions. The project is set to standardize the basic cooking technique of the Philippine Adobo to help the “ordinary citizens, foodies, and food businesses to maintain an authentic Filipino adobo taste.”

Over the years, a lot of efforts have been made to introduce the Filipino cuisine into the global scene. We are always being compared to our neighboring countries who have made themselves known to the world. When we talk about Thai cuisine, Pad Thai, and Tom Yum easily come to mind, then there’s ramen and sushi in Japanese cuisine or pho in Vietnamese cuisine. But when asked about Filipino cuisine, you’ll learn right off the bat that there are two answers, “adobo” and “Jollibee”. Well, we can’t blame them, it’s true.

A question is often asked, “why is the Filipino cuisine having a hard time to be the next big thing in Asia?” The question itself is already a problem and I think it’s a common Filipino trait where we seek validation from others, specifically foreigners. We go crazy when foreigners are eating balut or trying out the chickenjoy in Jollibee. That is why most of these foreign vloggers would use this to their advantage for they know just using the title “trying out Pinoy balut” would draw attention.

Are we really proud?

There are probably a lot of reasons why Filipino cuisine doesn't have an identity. But I can only find just one, and it all boils down to us, the Filipinos.

We have a really strong regionalism, and it’s because we are an archipelago. “My mom’s adobo will always be better than your mom’s adobo.” Can you still remember when Netflix caught some flak from other regions just for the mere reason that Cebu was featured in its Street Food Asia episode? Who can forget that? And oh, we easily adapt and patronize other cuisines more than ours; why do you think that these western and Asian restaurants are sprouting like mushrooms around our area? Because we patronize it, they have a market.

And lastly, we don’t have enough background of what Filipino cuisine is. Most schools don’t have a subject focusing on Filipino food history unlike other countries that knew their cuisine even to its tiniest details. For example, did you know that Sisig comes from an old Tagalog word “sisigan” which means to make it sour? A traditional sisig is boiled pig ears, sliced and tossed into vinegar; it’s an appetizer. But why is it a part of the main course section and served with rice in most Filipino restaurants? And when asked about a favorite Filipino dish, most answers are adobo. And I think only a few people knew that adobo is not a dish but a way of cooking, it comes from the Spanish word “adobar” which means marinade. Chicken adobo is the dish.

We may not see a lot of progress in our cuisine but I hope that in the future we may be able to find the cohesiveness in our diverse country where we can say, that is Filipino food!

Gerard Apurado

pastry chef

[email protected]


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