Sunday, April 24, 2011

Umm, Happy Easter?

"Memories of Philippine Kitchens"
While I'm not too happy that I don't get to work today as it hurts the ol' pocket book, I am happy about the awesome weekend I had.  I got to hang out outside all day yesterday selling sandwiches and hot dogs at Earth Day Omaha. I got to serve a bunch of cool local chef's, amongst them Clayton Chapman who owns The Grey Plume in Omaha, an awesome restaurant that does everything farm to table. (I also found out that a guy I worked with years ago back in Minnesota cooking breakfast for the Polka crowd at a little pub is his sous chef.)

I also received a fun cookbook in the mail.  "Memories of Philippine Kitchens" is written by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, owners of Purple Yam, in Brooklyn.  What drew me to this book is one, my wife is Filipino and her Mama cooks some amazing home dishes, and two, it actually goes through the history of the Filipino food as it is has multiple influences due to Spanish occupation and the Chinese influence as well.  From flipping through the book quickly it seems to distinguish between indigenous and externally influenced food, has about 10 different recipes for adobo (which is THE quintessential Filipino dish) and over 100 other dishes that fit in the professional kitchen as well as at home.

My favorite part, and this comes from my Mother-in-Law's approach to her cooking, is that Besa advocates finding what works for you by using your own measurements and your own sense of balance.  She literally has recipes in here that simply say, "Here are your ingredients, have at it."  This can be tricky with Filipino food due to the common acidic elements involved in many dishes from all of the vinegar used. Once balance is achieved though you can really tailor everything you do to what you enjoy.  I remember the first time I went to my In-Law's house and asked my Mama-in-law to let me help her in the kitchen. She first put me to work rolling lumpia then just went at making pancit right off the top of her head.  I asked her for the recipe and she just laughed and said, "Watch."

The best part is, I can't replicate it, but I can make it my own. This is why this book has me so excited.

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