Recording Filipino Food History with Felice Sta. Maria

On today’s show

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to study food history? In the Philippines, it’s not a topic often discussed by the general public – despite our love for debating the origins of pancit or adobo.

There are a handful of authors who delve into questions about where Filipino food comes from – and fewer still who frame the question of “tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are” in the context of being Filipino. Felice Sta. Maria is the Philippines’ foremost scholar on food history – an award-winning author and advisor to the country’s top cultural institutions, whom I can honestly say has ignited my desire to read as much as I can about food history. The Foods of Jose Rizal and The Governor General’s Kitchen were legitimate eye-openers to the depth and breadth of information we’ve found (and have yet to find) about food in the Philippines. To me, Felice made history approachable (and way more interesting than my high school textbooks could ever be).

If you’re a chef, tune in for Felice’s suggestions, as she outlines what food history can do for you and developing your dishes. R&D is, after all, an important aspect to the craft! If you’re interested in food history, whether Philippine specific or global – I promise you’ll learn a few new things (and wonder what it was like to live with cows at sea in the 1600s). If you’re Filipino and wondering “why should I care?”, that’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself. Why is history relevant today? How much does an understanding of our past shape how we think of ourselves today?

Show notes

02:45 Who is the Filipino?
03:50 Developing an interest in food
09:35 Research on the Spanish era
11:20 Research on canned goods
15:10 What the new world brought to us
17:30 “How were our favourite dishes cooked originally?”
21:55 The importance of food studies
29:45 “It’s like being a detective”
30:15 A human element to history
32:40 On traditional tastes
34:50 Benefit to locals
36:15 Catch the interest now!

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