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What the Heck is Filipino Food?


It would not be surprising if you have never given much thought to Filipino cookery. Of all the Asian cuisines in Australia, it had gone largely unnoticed. So much so that it has taken until now for Australia's first Filipino cookbook to be written and published.

Interestingly Filipino food has been around since the boom of Filipino skilled migrants in the 1970s but perhaps because the families have such good cooks in their homes, there has not been much said about it elsewhere.

What may be familiar, though, is a blog written by author, Adrian Briones, who moonlights on and spends his days as a digital advertising whiz kid.

Two years ago when visiting his birthplace, the Philippines, he realised as he was eating and photographing his way through hawker stalls and restaurants from metro Manila to the white sandy beaches of Boracay, that something was missing on the bookshelves of Australia.

Right then he decided to share his take on what he calls Asian Soul Food.

The result is a highly original, personal book. It demonstrates the author's love of the Philippines and especially its food.

It's a deeply personal book, too. There are anecdotes, musings and 'penciled' notes on some recipes, and Briones is behind every word of it, as well as being the photographer (and cook) of all the dishes.

The two parts, merienda (snacks/light meals) and larger main dishes, replicate the Filipino style of eating, and is based on his mother's recipes which he lovingly cooked, tested and photographed.

It's also a fun book - perhaps the nearest that a comic book has ever been to the kitchen - complete with flashy quote boxes, superhero fonts and cartoon characters. But like all good comics, there is a serious sub-text, which is that Filipino food is too good to be ignored any longer.

Obviously others have appreciated this too as, recently, Adrian's book was awarded the Best Asian Cuisine book (Australia) in the Gourmand Cookbook Awards 2013.

What the Heck is Filipino Food?, a beginner's guide to Filipino cooking, written and published by Adrian Briones, 2011, hardcover, A$34.55. ISBN 978 09872 29212.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond


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