7,000 Islands & I am Filipino Cookbooks
Words by Anna Manlulo
Why do we buy cookbooks? Generally, to learn new recipes, methods of cooking, admire food and places from far away but mostly, to keep us inspired. Leafing through every page with mouth-watering images of food, it triggers a sense of want – to taste it, to feel it, to share it with family and friends. Food is the link that connects us with one another. And cookbooks of various cuisines do that too – it’s the closest thing to actually tasting that food and better if you’re inspired to actually cook from it. I learned to cook not from recipes past down from generations in my family, but from cookbooks. New ones are piled on my bedside table, and I browse through them as I would any book – admiring the pages, cover to cover.
Recently, I attended the launch and dinner of two cookbooks close to my heart. Yasmin Newman’s updated release of 7,000 Islands and Nicole Ponseca’s I am Filipino.
When I first got this book in 2013, I wrote this review in my blog. “The book is extraordinary. It has history, tales (tall tales and superstitions even), recipes and the mouth-watering photos! The photos are amazing - it made me homesick really. It's very rare that a book can touch and tug at my heart strings but this did. And it's a cookbook! The photos and stories woven together to form this portrait of the Philippines is a great reminder that despite all the poverty, negative publicity and western influence, the Filipino culture strives because we embrace our history and our heritage, no matter where we are.”
Nicole’s cookbook is nothing short of incredible. The images are so raw, so real, it reminds me of the simplicity of life back in the Philippines. Bountiful seasonal produce at local markets, small roadside eateries, the humidity of the tropics and the colourful dishes of the regions. “This is not a cookbook. It’s a manifesto” and indeed it is. It highlights indigenous Filipino cooking methods and dishes as well as the diverse tapestry of Filipino cuisine, influenced by the early Malays, Spanish-Mexican, Chinese and Americans. The recipes are approachable, each with a side of history and details connected to the region. A beautiful cookbook that makes me so proud to be Filipino.
And this is why we buy cookbooks - it brings us closer to something we crave, something we miss, something we want to connect with. I hope these cookbooks inspire anyone and everyone to taste Filipino food, cook it at home and share it with their family and friends.