Because I link to a number of Filipino food writers and photographers (and I occasionally write about food), I’m posting this call to Filipino food writers, via PAWA’s Blog:
We’re working on an anthology of literary writing on food called Savor the Word, Swallow the World: A Literary Feast by Filipino Writers. We would like to highlight Filipino writers who, like us, are slogging away at the craft, probably turning to some good home cooking to nurse ourselves through the grueling process. We’ve also been inspired by a colleague’s recent collection of noir writing by South Asians and thought, hey, it’s been awhile since a collection of Filipino writing has been published and what better subject than food. Filipinos, correct us if we’re wrong, have a borderline fanatical relationship with food and Filipino writers can wax lyrical about all things food-related. With so much to say about an enduring—and at times controversial—subject, why don’t we write about it?
There are currently three million Filipinos residing in the United States, one of the largest Asian populations in the country, and the second fastest growing immigrant population. In addition, Filipinos live and work in over 100 countries. With such a vast food-obsessed culture, why does Filipino cuisine remain in the margins? Stars of the culinary world like Anthony Bourdain considers Filipino lechon to be “possibly the best roasted pork he’s ever had”, while New York Times food writer, Mark Bittman considers Filipino chicken adobo to be “possibly the world’s best chicken dish”. Yet, with such praise and accolades, the food stays home, in the kitchens of aunties and uncles, at birthday parties, christenings and deaths.
We’ve heard the equally challenging viewpoint of: Why compare ourselves to other cultures’ foods? In the context of Western ideals and values? Excellent point. Perhaps it is more of a blessing that our cuisine remain at a “high standard” at home versus being replicated at a lesser standard for the public.
There is no one answer to these questions, but we’d like to continue illuminating Filipino culture in writing by exploring it through the most direct passage, through food, from the gut. This collection of prose, a mix of fictional narratives, memoir, and essays ( interspersed with a tightly curated collection of poems, photos and artwork, along with a back index of intimate family recipes), follows in the footsteps of food writers such as M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl and the Philippines’ celebrated food writer, the late Doreen Fernandez, who wrote the following, which we humbly borrow as the anthology’s title: “Savor the word. Swallow the world.”
Until then, please enjoy our blog where you will find excerpts from the book and other food-centered musings as we swallow the world. Salamat.
Nita Noveno & Erica Miguel