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where are all the Filipino restaurants?

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The presentation on Fil-Am cuisine and culture at the Smithsonian was pretty interesting. One of the presenters has the same surname as my mother's maiden name, and it turns out that her family is from the city where I was born. She told me that her cousin is doing their family history and would let me know if we are related. I think it's unlikely though since she said that their family was originally from China and adopted the name of the Filipino family who sponsored them.

A lot of the discussion centered on why there are so few Filipino restaurants, given that Filipinos are one of the largest ethnic minorities in the US, and given the ubiquity of other cuisines (like Thai) that come from the same region. One reason might be that Filipino cuisine is considered "private." We tend to bring people home for Filipino cuisine. Another possibility is that most of the Filipinos who immigrate to the US are professionals who look down on restaurant work. Though it is a point of pride that the executive chef at the White House is a Filipina-American. (And one of the few other Filipinos in Morocco when I was there was one of the chefs to the King.)

There was also much talk about "authentic" and "genuine" Filipino cuisine. How does one cook Filipino food when one is far removed in space (on another continent) and time (a generation away) from the Philippines? Everyone laughed when one of the presenters said that the worst clients at their restaurant were the Filipinos because they were looking for their mother's or grandmother's dishes and not finding them at the restaurant.

I have to defend Fil-Am cuisine to my MoBob who comes from a country with a long, refined culinary tradition. I have to explain to him why the ice cream is purple.



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On November 2nd, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC), mokey4 commented:
What is Filipino cuisine like? It's funny.. I don't think I've ever had it! I can't recall ever seeing a Filipino restaurant. That seems strange, considering that I've lived in some pretty international cities.
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On November 2nd, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
You'll have better luck in Seattle! Here you really have to go out into the
'burbs for real Filipino food. I think it's a pretty friendly cuisine, not too many weird ingredients, and not very spicy. The signature dish is adobo which is beef, chicken, or pork marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and bay leaves.

I do cook Filipino food but everyone wants to eat Moroccan when they come over!
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On November 3rd, 2008 12:07 am (UTC), mokey4 replied:
Yeah, I can understand wanting Moroccan food :)

I'll have to keep an eye out for Filipino food in Seattle. I'm excited about all the excellent Asian cuisine out there. I had the best Chinese food ever there- I didn't even know it could be that good. I also had really good Korean food but realized that I don't actually like Korean food that much, for some reason. I don't exactly dislike it, just don't love it.
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On November 3rd, 2008 01:42 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Pete's Diner counts as Korean food, right?
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On November 3rd, 2008 01:50 am (UTC), mokey4 replied:
I love Pete's :)

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On November 3rd, 2008 01:52 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Can you believe that every time I've been there I always order the vegetarian special!
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On November 3rd, 2008 04:21 am (UTC), mokey4 replied:
I've been there more than 10 times and I've only not ordered the veggie special once! It's sooo goooood, why get anything else?
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On November 2nd, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC), angevin2 commented:
That purple ice cream looks really yummy.
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On November 2nd, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
It is usually consumed as one ingredient of halo-halo, which is, believe it or not, a snack:



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On November 2nd, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC), angevin2 replied:
I TOTALLY WANT SOME OF THAT.
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On November 2nd, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
It will help you forget those pesky students!
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On November 2nd, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC), angevin2 replied:
Yes! And it is so pretty and colorful. :D
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On November 2nd, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Not to mention about a billion Weight Watchers points.
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On November 3rd, 2008 12:03 am (UTC), jandjsalmon commented:
OOOOH the Filipino lady in our branch makes the YUMMIEST food ever. When we do the pot luck thing she doesn't even bother signing up for things - we all just know Ampy is bringing the BIG bowl of noodles and chicken and the spring rolls (TO DIE FOR).

We've eaten at her house once and there was so much food you could feed a small army. And neither she nor her mother would sit until we had all dished and were eating. WONDERFUL ladies. :D
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On November 3rd, 2008 01:37 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Maybe that's why there aren't any restaurants - 'cause home cooking's so good!
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On November 3rd, 2008 12:51 am (UTC), a_t_rain commented:
OK, I'll bite: why is the ice cream purple? And are those beans in the dish with it, in the second pic?
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On November 3rd, 2008 01:39 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Apparently the yam is already purple (it's called ube) and I'm sure there's some judicious food coloring too. Those are mung beans. I usually pick them out.
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On November 3rd, 2008 01:00 am (UTC), wendye commented:
Lumpia for the win!
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On November 3rd, 2008 01:39 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Too right!
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On November 3rd, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I do miss your mother's lumpia...
There is a lady who makes it at church here but sadly it is just not the same...
D
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On November 3rd, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC), trixalicious commented:
I was fortunate enough to have dinner last Tuesday with a local Filipino family we recently met. I've been eating mostly vegetarian for the past month, but I made last Tuesday my meat night so that I could enjoy her chicken adobo. It was awesome, and I've really been strangely homesick for the Philippines recently, so the timing was perfect. I really want some chicken inasal, but I can't get kalamansi juice anywhere around here. I bought some kalamansi powder, but it's not the same at all.

There's a good Filipino restaurant outside Bethesda in Derwood - Pampanguena Cafe. I don't know of one in the Philly area, but next time I get down DC way, I'll definitely be stopping in there.

But I am not a fan of ube ice cream OR queso ice cream. I just... can't.
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On November 4th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Thanks for the tip! I only found 3 Pinoy restos on the washingtonpost.com restaurant guide, including the one you mentioned.

I don't like ube ice cream either. It just looks too weird.
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