Story by Kristine Ortiz.
Australian-born Filipina Yasmin Newman used to visit the Philippines as a child, but it wasn’t until she became an adult that she discovered a true passion for Filipino food. Today, she presents the Filipino Kitchen Conversation program on Australia’s SBS radio, and her new coffee table book, 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines, is a lush collection of Filipino food, life and culture.
With stunning photos (she took them herself!) of not just native dishes but people and places that lend a richness to the recipes within, the book offers juicy cultural tidbits like the tradition of pasalubong (small souvenirs you bring home for friends and family), local fables and lore, and a bit of historical context for a full, well-rounded picture of Filipino life and cuisine. Our favorite part of the book is her take on local dining culture, excerpted here.
How to Eat in the Philippines (excerpted from 7000 Islands)
Take in what’s on offer.
A lot of preparation has gone into this meal and a simple glance will often miss a delicious dish hiding in the banquet.
Pile your plate with anything (and everything) that takes your fancy.
A little bit of this, a little bit of that and definitely some of that over there. Don’t forget the rice.
Sit back and let the elements blend.
Multiple dishes offer more than just choice — Filipinos believe food tastes best once different flavours have combined on the plate.
Eat with gusto.
Don’t be shy! Use your hands to dip food into sauces. Feel free to move from a savoury to a sweet dish, then back to savoury — there are no rules here.
Always go back for more.
Lest your host think you’ve not eaten enough. One serving will not suffice.
Leave a little remainder on your plate.
Lest your host think you’re not full!
Let the gossiping, jokes and laughter begin.
Not much talk takes place at the start of a meal — Filipinos are too excited by the food. Once stomachs are sated, smiles can be seen around the table. Don’t rush off; here, family and friends hang out to chat for seemingly hours on end.
Details Hardcover, $39.95, available April, rizzoliusa.com.
Excerpted from 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines by Yasmin Newman, Hardie Grant, 2014. Food photography © Jana Liebenstein and location shots © Yasmin Newman; no images may be used, in print or electronically, without written consent from the publisher.
This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here.