Is Filipino cuisine better off without rice? Twitter user Miyako Izabel thinks so.
On 17 Aug 2021, Izabel stirred up quite a discussion on the social media platform after sharing the following tweet: “What ruins Filipino cuisine? Rice. Dinuguan can be served with those tiny putos, sinantolan with crudites, laing with lavash or toasted sliced French baguette, chicken curry with savory piyayas, etc., but Filipinos always insist on serving rice. Too ethnic.”
A writer, an independent publisher, and a social media activist, Izabel was referencing an F&B Report story about Filipino cuisine and how it deserves to be more known globally. The thumbnail features the dishes Izabel cited in her tweet. Meanwhile, the content delves into how Filipino food is so complex and diverse because of our many culinary influences.
Filipino cuisine can’t not have rice
Mostly without chill, Filipinos went to rice’s defense and shared their sentiments against Izabel’s tweet. “Sure, you might not like rice, but you can’t say something so bold that it offends the culture you’re supposed to be representing. Do we really have to adhere to Western mindsets? Our food is already popular around the world,” tweeted one user.
Another supported this by saying, “I hope you realise that the problem here lies in the fact that in order to fulfill your desire for the Filipino identity to be known worldwide, you want to change a staple aspect of Filipino identity for it to be more catered to Westerners. You see what’s wrong there?”
On the issue of international acclaim, a Twitter user also ended up citing a popular Filipino restaurant that went on to be recognised overseas. “Do you know Toyo? They’re no. 49 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants with ‘rice’ in their tasting menu. So rice doesn’t ruin our cuisine. What needs to be done is to talk about our cuisine in a good way. Not like what you’re doing of cancelling rice. It should be how to elevate the cuisine even if there is rice.”
Others have also noted how rice isn’t solely the issue. After all, other dishes in Asia have made it to the international scene without locals altering their culinary traditions.
Make adjustments to go international?
Responding to the comments from the Twitter world, Izabel elaborated in succeeding tweets how her caption should only be taken within the context of the F&B Report article. “Ang isyu ay pasikatan. Mahirap pasikatin ang Filipino cuisine sa labas ng Pilipinas dahil hindi lahat ng mga dayuhan ay kumakain ng kanin,” she told one of the respondents.
Mentioning her apparent background in culinary, Izabel also detailed the disadvantages of adding rice to a meal. “In food marketing, which I also studied, you should never put cheap ingredients on a plate if you want a high price or you are into upscale dining. Rice is cheap and deemed as a food expander or extender. It’s not important in a flavor profile. It’s ugly in plating.”
“First impression, which is food appeal, matters. It influences consumption, taste, and impression. If you want to promote Filipino cuisine to the world, the only route is fine dining or haute cuisine,” she ended her argument. “I will give up Twitter if you can find a Filipino professional chef who puts this mould of plain boiled white rice in his or her finely plated dish in an upscale Filipino fine-dining restaurant.”
Do you think Filipino cuisine would fare better internationally without rice?
Featured image credit: allgord via Canva Pro. The quotes above have been edited for grammar, clarity, and flow.