Friday, May 2, 2008


World-class food books
KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson
Monday, April 21, 2008, Philippine Star
Gourmands, gourmets, food writers, food- lovers, chefs, culinary aficionados, gluttons, and everyone else (like me) who simply live to eat have been in a tizzy over the great good news that Philippine books won major prizes in the Gourmand Food Awards recently held in London.

Congratulations to our friends Felice Sta. Maria, Cecilia Manguera Brainard and Marily Orosa, the eminent authors and editors of the books from Anvil Publishing Inc., which actually had seven of its titles winding up as finalists.

These were: Pulutan: From the Soldier’s Kitchen by Elmer D. Cruz and Emerson R. Rosales; The Governor-General’s Kitchen: Philippine Culinary Vignettes and Period Recipes 1521-1935 by Felice Prudente Sta. Maria; Potluck: Hidalgo Bonding — A Family Heritage Cookbook, edited by Jaime C. Laya and Adelaida Lim; Food Tour: A Culinary Journal by Claude Tayag; Managing a Food-safe Kitchen: A Guide on Sanitation for Food Service Professionals by the Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center; A La Carte: Food and Fiction, edited by Cecilia Brainard and Marily Orosa; and Going East: A Merging of Asian Culinary Styles by Gene Gonzalez.

It was our good friend Marily who first informed us of the happy development:

“Cecilia and I wish to announce that our book titled A La Carte (Food and Fiction) placed third as Best in the World Food Literature Book at the Gourmand Food Awards held in London last Sunday, April 13. Last year, our book was Gourmand country winner for Best Philippine Food Literature Book. It went on to the international competition for Best in World and competed against 22 countries in its category — and won third. It is the first time the Philippines won an award in this very competitive category and in this prestigious competition.

“Congratulations and thank you for being part of A La Carte! Our win will definitely bring attention and honor to the Philippines! Two other Philippine books also won major awards.”

Why the congratulations from Marily, when it was she who partnered with California-based Cecilia or “Baby” on that title, which put together Philippine short stories that involved food, as well as corresponding recipes? Well, that’s because she sent the post to the anthology’s contributors, among them our best writers of fiction here and abroad.

The co-editors are among the 25 writers represented in the collection. The rest are: Dean Alfar, Erwin Cabucos, Ian Rosales Casocot, Linda Ty Casper, Carlos Cortes, Erma Cuizon, Jose “Butch” Dalisay, Susan Evangelista, Romina “Mia” Gonzalez, Shirlie Mae Choe Mamaril, Margarita Marfori, Reine Arcache “Bonnie” Melvin, Veronica Montes, Corinna Nuqui, Oscar PeƱaranda, Edgar Poma, Brian Ascalon Roley, Nadine Sarreal, Joel Tan, Janet Villa, Marby Villaceran, Edna Weisser, and this foodie, er, writer.

Well, congrats to us all then. Thank you, London!

Next on the e-mail matrix was the superb news that Felice’s extraordinarily classy Governor-Generals’ Kitchen won second place in the category of Culinary History, where 24 countries competed. Stylishly designed by Ige Ramos, it won a National Book Award from the Manila Critics Circle last year.

Upon Felice’s suggestion, Anvil is planning to relaunch all of its seven books that made it as finalists in the competition. It may be appropriate to conduct this sometime in May, our heritage month.

Another title, Foodlore and Flavors: Inside the Southeast Asian Kitchen, published by Artpostasia-Philippines under the leadership of Tina Colayco, also placed third in the awards. It competed in the category of Asian Cuisine Cookbook, which had 17 finalists from 17 countries. Tan Su-Lyn served as editor, while our very own Neal Oshima is credited with the excellent photography.

Among the contributors to this elegant coffee-table book is our friend Micky Fenix, who now serves as editor in chief of Food magazine of ABS-CBN Publications.

So congrats and kudos to you too, Micky and Tina, Ige and Neal! When do we all dine and drink under your “blowout” aegis?

This was the first time ever that the Philippines had country winners, eight in all, and subsequently, three world winners in the highly competitive Gourmand World Cook Book Awards held in partnership with the London Book Fair. Our books competed against over 9000 entries from 107 countries.

Try visiting the Gourmand website, where you can read a glowing observation on the world-class writing being done by Filipinos. You’ll also find out, once and for all, what the difference is between “gourmand” and “gourmet” — which is basically nothing.

Heck, here it is:

“The origin of gourmand is Celtic. In the 13th century ‘Gioraman’ in Irish meant someone ‘who has good appetite.’ Gourmand has a noble meaning, and it is a compliment to be a Gourmand. Gourmet is more recent. It comes from the Dutch ‘Grom,’ meaning young man. In the 15th century the ‘Groom’ was the servant who transported the wines. In the 16th century ‘Groomet’ became Gourmet and was only used for the men who carried barrels of wine or employees of wine merchants. Later the Gourmet became Sommelier. In academic French, Gourmet should be used only for wine. Gourmand is broader, and more positive. In English, Gourmet is used more, in the broad meaning.

“In the 18th Century, French writer Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote: ‘None is happier than the Gourmand.’”

Some readers may note, however, that while we’re winning world food book awards, a rice crisis appears to be looming in our islands, amidst equally dire reports on an imminent global food crisis.

Hmm. Even the Chinese can’t cook or eat irony, which only moves some people to further discernment, or laughter or tears.

A contributor to A La Carte, our good friend Charlie Cortes from Lapulapu City, may well have the last laugh, born of initial prescience. His story in the collection, which the Gourmand judges commended for “reveal(ing) Filipino culture in a unique way,” was titled “Hanging Rice.”

Now who’s the pundit who’ll quip: “Let ‘em eat budbod.”

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