Monday, March 21, 2011
Maasim, Maalat, Matamis, Mapait, Masarap
That's sour, salty, sweet, bitter and finally, umami -- the five basic tastes in Tagalog.
Last Saturday, I attended a Symposium on the Filipino Palate at Enderun College.
Amy Besa erstwhile of Cendrillon and now of Purple Yam fame and one of the most passionate champions of Filipino food abroad, had put together a group of like minded individuals for a lively discussion of what makes up the Pinoy palate.
Why do we eat what we eat?
It was quite a lofty objective and somehow, the casual and breezy way in which the symposium was conducted never quite made it to that goal.
What we did end up with was a culinary tertulia of sorts, among a small group of interested and interesting people - chefs, writers, bloggers, foodies -- who I believe were brought together by Amy's infectious enthusiasm and perhaps that alone is a good start.
After a few short talks from various people on topics ranging from Southeast Asian food to cooking in clay pots to artisanal vinegars, Amy announced that there would be a food tasting of some of the things we had talked about in Enderun's restaurant. And about time too, all the talk about food and the slide shows of regional cuisine had made most of us quite hungry.
I had thought the tasting would be just that -- small sips of vinegar from Bulacan and Ilokos, patis from Navotas and Cavite (Amy had described it as wickedly smelly) plus some bagoong, burong isda, and even pajo that some people had brought for her to try.
But the tasting became quite a feast albeit a very healthy and green one -- we had platters of alugbati, saluyot, kangkong, sigarilyas, alukon, patane, ampalaya, talong -- I could have broken into a song -- "Bahay Kubo" would have been entirely appropriate.
We spent over an hour talking, exchanging opinions, tasting, dipping, comparing, reminiscing, delving into just what it was that made us enjoy all the flavors -- maasim na suka, maalat na bagoong, matamis na kutsinta, mapait na amplaya --
I came to my own conclusion that we eat what we eat because ultimately, Pinoy food is really masarap!