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Chicharon, Buro, Monggo And Other Proudly Filipino Products Served At This Year’s Madrid Fusión In Spain

Anthony Bourdain said it, as did Andrew Zimmern, repeatedly. They’re among the food experts that have maintained for a few years now that Philippine cuisine is the next big thing in the global gastronomic scene.

It will be a while before Philippine food gets anywhere near as popular as Chinese, Japanese, or Thai. But whether it even gets there or not, it’s slowly but unwaveringly inching its way onto the food map.

The country’s participation in Madrid Fusión is one way by which other parts of the world will get a taste of the flavors and cooking styles from our archipelago. This prestigious international gastronomy congress exposes the world to our food, and at the same time gives our chefs a chance to learn from the best.


Sips and bites of the Philippines

Proudly Philippine products from Chocnut to beer


The Philippine exhibit set up by the Department of Tourism featured different delicacies each day of the three-day summit. Aside from the booth’s staples like cornik, Chocnut, pili nuts, and chicharon with vinegar, Madrid Fusión participants will also be able to sample freshly prepared champorado with dilis, sinigang shots, kapeng barako, arroz caldo, and even rice with adobo and atchara.

DOT’s Pam Samaniego said they are taking part in Madrid Fusión primarily to invite people to come to the fourth edition of Madrid Fusión Manila in April. “What we want to establish is putting the Philippines as a culinary destination in Asia, because the Philippines has a lot to offer as far as cuisine is concerned,” she said.


Cooking Philippine style

Just as Madrid Fusión got to sample the finished product, they were also exposed to cooking processes and techniques presented by Philippine chefs.

Chef Jordy Navarra on stage


This year, the country’s presenter was Chef Jordy Navarra of Toyo Eatery, which has been winning accolades due to his modern take on traditional Filipino dishes and ingredients. After going to a rice festival north of Manila in December, Chef Jordy had a meal that included buro, a ubiquitous dish in some regions of the country, made of fermented rice and salted baby shrimp. This experience inspired him to talk about this humble condiment in Madrid Fusión.


Chef Jordy talks buro and fermentation


“In the world now, you see a lot of countries rediscovering fermentation techniques from their food cultures, so I wanted to share what we have in the Philippines, to show that this is how we do it in our part of the world,” according to Navarra.


Buro paired with pork mango mustard leaves 


He quickly whipped up a dish of green mango and bagoong topped with prawns and ripe mango, then partnered it with mustard leaves with browned pork and the star of the presentation—buro.

Without skipping a beat, he presented the crowd with some dark chocolate with patis—an unconventional combination which members of the audience said was both unusual and delicious.

To wrap up his demonstration, he prepared something sweet—a concoction of nata de coco, fresh coconut sap vinegar, tapuy (a native alcoholic beverage), and ice cream topped with burnt coconut husk. Another hit for those who got a taste.


Chef JP Anglo with a crew of Spanish chefs


Madrid Fusión participants had another chance to sample our cooking during the reception held by the Philippines. Chef JP Anglo of Sarsa Kitchen + Bar, another acclaimed chef who came with the Philippine delegation, created one of the dishes of the evening.


Beef monggo in glasses by Chef JP Anglo


Chef JP went shopping at a local market and combined these ingredients with others that he had brought from the Philippines. He made a stew of beef and mung beans, and his handiwork held its own against Spanish staples on the menu such as gazpacho and tortilla de patata.


From Madrid to Manila

Chef JP Anglo at the Philippine reception


Chef JP would like to take back to his kitchen the idea of having a philosophy of cooking. “I like their holistic approach to food, from where they get it, to talking to farmers, to presenting it, the reason why they made it, the reason why they cook,” he explains.

Chef Jordy meanwhile is inspired by the drive to constantly improve. He shares, “It’s very different in Asia, it’s different in style. Here the exchange of ideas is very fast, it’s very aggressive, it’s continuous. You don’t stop, you keep going, everyone pushes to get better. Everyone’s really making an effort to get the ideas out and to create. That’s very inspiring, because creating is not easy.”

Next big food trend or not, the interaction that Madrid Fusión provides can only serve to enrich Philippine cuisine. Who knows if pansit will ever become as popular as pad Thai? While waiting for kinilaw to be the next ceviche, or for sisig and adobo to take the world by storm, exposure to a global audience will ensure that we will eventually win palates the world over, one vinegary, sweet, or salty morsel at a time.


Photos by Alex Alikpala