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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bourdain's No Reservations - Philippines

I like Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. He is usually bubbling with enthusiasm for the countries he visits and raves about their cuisine. So why do I feel that his culinary tour of the Philippines is flat? He visited Chinatown in Manila, Claude Tayag in Pampanga, and Augusto's family in Cebu. The questions are inevitable: why is Philippine cuisine not well known enough? why isn't it distinctive? what is a Filipino? The answers are also predictable: melting pot, marginalized in Asia because it's too West-oriented, too diverse, we are too nice, etc.

He seemed disappointed in the real Augusto vs the high-energy video fan Augusto. Augusto's family was quiet, barely talking and making eye contact with Bourdain. Augusto couldn't do or say enough to liven things up so Bourdain had to provide the post-taping commentary. Bourdain doesn't usually comment on identity issues but if food=identity, then he had a hard time finding the equation. Was it an honest assessment? Perhaps. Me thinks he could have talked to more persuasive folks like Prof. Jun de Leon... Oh, Doreen Fernandez, I miss you.

As for the big name gourmet chef, artist, restaurauteur Claude Tayag - he did a good enough job. Good choice. But I can't believe that Cebu beat Pampanga on the best lechon!

Well, Claude said that what makes the food special has less to do with ingredients and more about the family and friends enjoying eating together but even this didn't show very well in the Cebu segment.

I demand a retake:-) I think he should visit Cafe by the Ruins and Vocas in Baguio and let Kidlat Tahimik be his tour guide.

Comments:
A retake is in order, indeed, this time with a better representation of Filipino cuisine! Tony's crew should have exerted more effort on research prior to selecting his guides. There are several far better authorities on food out there.
 
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